Nestle challenges Maggi noodles ban in Indian court

MUMBAI (AFP) - Nestle said on Thursday it is challenging a ban imposed by India on its hugely popular Maggi noodles brand after tests showed they contained excessive levels of lead.

Nestle said it had approached the high court in the city of Mumbai seeking a judicial review of a June 5 order from the government's food safety regulator banning the product.

"Nestle India Limited has today approached the Hon'ble Bombay High Court raising issues of interpretation of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2011," said a statement posted on the company's website.

It said it was also challenging a separate order from the state government of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital.

Nestle, which says the noodles are safe to eat, had already announced it was pulling the product from sale when the ban was imposed.

On Thursday, it said it would keep the product off store shelves despite the court action.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said last week it was banning the company from producing and selling the noodles after tests by some states found lead levels above statutory limits.

The safety scare is a huge blow to the company, which has been selling its Maggi brand for over three decades in India, and has 80 per cent of the country's instant noodle market.

Shares in Nestle India, a subsidiary of the Swiss-based giant, fell more than 9.0 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange last week as the controversy escalated.

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