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Maggi in deeper soup: Centre files complaint before NCDRC

New Delhi:  In further troubles for Nestle over Maggi issue, the government has filed a complaint on its own with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) -- using a provision for the first time
PTI June 03, 2015 19:58 IST
PTI

New Delhi:  In further troubles for Nestle over Maggi issue, the government has filed a complaint on its own with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) -- using a provision for the first time from the nearly three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act.  

Describing the alleged lapses related to food safety standards in Maggi noodles as a "serious issue", Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also said that the NCDRC will investigate the matter and take appropriate action.  

"We cannot say at this point of time, what exact action NCDRC will take," he added.

Paswan also said that rising fast food consumption may have health risk.

"In cities like Mumbai, 25 per cent of people do not eat at home. With rise in consumption of fast food items, there is also risk of health. Maggi is eaten maximum by children," he added.

Usually, NCDRC comes into play following complaints filed by a consumer, but a section of this Act of 1986 also provides for the government to register a complaint.  "For the first time, we are taking action under Section 12-1-D of the Consumer Protection Act, under which both Centre and states have powers to file complaints," Paswan said.

This particular section deals with the manner in which a complaint can be made before NCDRC.

It states that "a complaint in relation to any goods sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered or any service provided or agreed to be provided may be filed by ... the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, either in its individual capacity or as a representative of interests of the consumers in general."

While the government has already asked central food safety regulator FSSAI to look into the matter, it had earlier said that NCDRC would look into this issue if a complaint is filed.  

"Since there would be delay in getting FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) reports and since it is concerned about consumers, we decided to file a written complaint before NCDRC in the interest of consumers," Paswan told reporters here.

FSSAI, which comes under the Health Ministry, has taken samples of Maggi noodles from all states for testing.  The Minister said the FSSAI Act provides for a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment of up to 6 years in case of grievous injury to the consumer, while the imprisonment could be of minimum 7 years and fine of not less than Rs 10 lakh in case of death.

"I don't know what will be the outcome of the (FSSAI) reports. If FSSAI reports are found to be positive, it is a very serious issue," the minister said.

Asked if his Ministry will ask states to ban Maggi, he said: "I cannot ask states to ban. It is a state issue. If states are banning, what can I do?"

On action against brand ambassadors, he said, "It is not about individual. It is about unfair trade practice, that is selling substandard products and making false claims in advertisements and misleading consumers."

Maggi noodles was today banned in Delhi for 15 days and existing stocks ordered to be withdrawn while retail major Future Group stopped sale of the popular instant snack at its Big Bazaar outlets.