Maggi faces legal action, bans from states in India.
By Dileep Thekkethil
BENGALURU: Actor Amitabh Bachchan says he has not received any notice from the Indian government on his endorsing Maggi Noodles, even as the controversy over the food product could see it being banned in several states in India.
A week after the Uttar Pradesh government found excessive quantity of lead and monosodium glutamate in Maggi Noodles, the government has warned celebrity endorsers of possible legal action if their claim about the instant 2-minute noodles is found misleading.
However, Bachchan, who is celebrating his 42nd wedding anniversary today, was quoted by the Times of India saying that he has not received any notice from the government for endorsing Maggi noodles. He also said that if he is served a notice in the coming days, he will extend full cooperation and added that his contract with Maggi Noodles expired two years back.
Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preeti Zinta, who have been brand ambassadors of Maggi Noodles over the past few years, are also facing legal action after Sudhir Kumar Ojhaa, a lawyer in Bihar lodged a complaint stating that he fell ill eating Maggi Noodles. If found of spreading false statements about Maggi Noodles, the celebrity endorsers could even be arrested.
The Indian Express reported that the Bihar court has ordered the police to file an FIR against the actors under various sections of IPC, including IPC 420 for cheating, Section 270 for malignant act, Section 273 for sales of noxious food and drinks.
Another case has been registered by the UP food regulator FSDA against Nestle India in Barabanki court over the safety of Maggi Noodles and other Nestle products.
Madhuri Dixit, who was recently served notice by the UP government for appearing in the advertisement, had earlier met Maggi officials and the company has assured her that their products follow all the safety standards.
Speaking to the media about the course of action against Maggi brand ambassadors, consumer affairs ministry secretary G Gurucharab said, “Yes, they would be liable for action if the advertisements are found to be misleading, and it becomes a misleading advertisement if it is found that the product does not have the attributes that the manufacturer professed. If the brand ambassador has promoted that product and said specifically that the product has those attributes, they are also certainly liable for action.”
Nestle said in a statement, “We have also submitted samples of Maggi Noodles from almost 600 product batches to an external laboratory for independent analysis and we tested samples from almost 1,000 batches at our accredited laboratory.
“These samples represent around 32 crore packets, as one batch comprises of about two lakh packs. All the results of these internal and external tests show that lead levels are well within the limits specified by food regulations and that Maggi noodles are safe to eat.”
Bachchan was quoted by NDTV, saying, “I did check with Nestle, who make the product, whether this is all right and if they are sure… I even put a clause in my contract where I said that I hope you people defend me, legally if something happens.”
Madhuri Dixit, the current brand ambassador of Maggi, tweeted through her official twitter account “Nestle has reassured me that they adhere to stringent testing for quality and safety and are working with the authorities closely.”
But, the central government has ordered for the lab test of Maggi samples collected from all Indian states and adding to this the Delhi-government has banned Maggi after finding 10 out of 13 samples of having higher levels of lead and MSG than permissible limits.
Indian army has issued an advisory notice to all solders to abstain from taking Maggi Noodles and also asked the military canteens to keep aside the existing stock of the 2 minute noodles until further orders.
Meanwhile, giving hope to Maggi, samples of Maggi Noodles collected from two districts of Kerala have successfully passed that safety test. The state had earlier temporarily stopped the sales of Maggi Noodles via Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation outlets. Also, the Maharashtra government today said that their test found no excess quantity of lead in Maggi.
Food and civil supplies minister Girish Bapat told PTI, “We have taken some samples but we have not found any negative reports. I am in constant touch with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Harshadeep Kamble on the issue.”