The Indian arm of Swiss food company Nestle SA is set to release advertisement campaigns highlighting the “trustworthy facts” about its instant noodles brand Maggi. This comes a day after the Supreme Court revived the class-action suit by the government against the company in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).
“Our approach as a credible, trustworthy and responsible company is to always communicate with consumers on facts, in a simple, clear and transparent tone and manner,” a spokesperson for Nestle India said in an email reply to ET’s query on the upcoming campaign. “What you will see in the print ads, to be released over the next few days, is just that.” The campaign starts on January 5.
When the national food regulator, Food Safety Standards and Safety Authority of India (FSSAI) had banned Maggi noodles in 2015 for containing lead in excess of permissible limits and mislabelling of flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate, the move had resulted in the instant noodles category being almost wiped out of the country, and the company taking a hit of Rs 450 crore and destroying over 30,000 tonnes of the product.
Nestle had subsequently released high-decibel, dedicated campaigns across print, television, YouTube and social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, on the ‘safety of Maggi noodles’, but the response was seen as a bit delayed. By then, the brand’s credibility had already been questioned and it had been pulled off shelves.
Following the ban, the government had moved the top consumer forum alleging unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements by Nestle and sought compensation of Rs 640 crore under provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The brand was cleared by government authorities five months after the ban, and it then bounced back as category leader. Its current market share is close to 60%. At the court hearing on January 3, bench head Justice DY Chandrachud said, “Why should Maggi noodles have lead at all? I would be averse to eat Maggi with lead in it. Why should children eat Maggi with lead?” The bench said the report from Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysuru, where the Maggi noodles samples were tested, will form the basis for the proceedings. At the court hearing, Nestle India’s lawyers said the lead in Maggi noodles was “below detectable limits”.
“Reports show lead below detectable limits in some samples and only minuscule quantities of lead in others,” Nestle’s lawyer Rajesh Batra said in the court. “It was explained by us that the lead is present everywhere and, therefore, post proper scientific evaluation, a limit of 2.5 parts per million (PPM) is fixed as permissible limit. We do not add any lead to the product and minuscule quantities can come from purely external sources like air, water and grains.”
Source: Economic Times