08 December 2015 | Column | By Milind Kokje
<p>The noodles controversy in the country is getting dragged too long like the long noodles itself and has widen also with one more brand added to it</p>
The noodles controversy in the country is getting dragged too long like the long noodles itself and has widen also with one more brand added to it. It started with Nestle’s Maggi brand noodles and now Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali brand noodles is added to it.
In the case of Maggi, Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI) has challenged the Bombay High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court on two points. The high court had turned down the food regulator’s order banning Maggi noodles and allowed Nestle to sell its product after testing it in five independent labs. All these tests cleared the Maggi noodles and the product has hit the market now.
The regulator has moved the Supreme Court on the high court’s observation that the FSSAI officials did not observe principle of natural justice and the validity of its lab operations. It has also claimed that the high court ‘erred’ is asking the company itself to provide the fresh samples instead of asking a neutral authority to do so.
One can understand the food regulator’s urge to go to the apex court. No regulator would like to have a remark that its important action lacked the basic principle like natural justice. Similarly, it could not afford to have an adverse remark on its lab as it would not only put the regulator in an embarrassing situation, but would also prove to be a major disadvantage since any such action in future could be challenged on this ground.
But, to avoid such situations proper care needs to be taken in the beginning itself. It can help avoid prolong legal battle and also in having cordial relations with the industry. It is obvious that any violation by the industry should of course not be tolerated just for the sake of cordial relations. But, such actions by the regulator even after the court decision develop doubts among the industry over its intentions and disturbs relations. As a result the sector suffers. This was evident earlier in product approval saga.
The PA episode also seems to be not over yet even after the apex court decision. The issue came up when the regulator objected to the launch of Patanjali brand noodles on the grounds that its approval was not taken for the product. Patanjali claimed that it had a license to produce various food products, including ‘pasta’ and noodles come under that category, hence there was no need for the regulator’s approval for the noodle. The claim is not acceptable to the regulator.
The Patanjali noodles controversy has highlighted one more issue. Industry has raised a point that when no product approval process is existing following the Supreme Court judgement upholding the Bombay high court decision quashing the product approval notification, where is the need for the noodles to get approval. The industry is baffled by such actions of the regulator. After product approval, noodles seems to be the main cause impacting relations between the industry and the regulator.
In short, the long noodles appear to be leading to a long controversy and instead of providing the exotic flavour, noddle dishes are leaving a bad taste in industry’s mouth.