Food regulator faces Ramdevís noodle challenge

Patanjali atta noodles has not got product approvals, says FSSAI chief while the yoga guruís company denies any violation

GN Bureau | November 18, 2015


#Maggi noodles   #Maggi ban   #yoga guru   #Ramdev   #Maggi   #Food regulator   #FSSAI   #Patanjali   #atta noodles  

This is food for debate about finer points of law and the power of regulators in India. While Nestle went to court on Maggi noodles ban, yoga guru Ramdev is challenging the authorities in media.

Baba Ramdev made his debut in the instant noodles business with Patanjali Atta Noodles early this month, but has fallen foul with the food regulator, that took on the multinational Nestle. The Food Safety and Regulatory Authority of India officials say that the yoga guru’s noodles have not been approved by the agency.

“Patanjali Atta Noodles has not got product approvals from us. The matter has been brought to our notice. We are pursuing it,” Ashish Bahuguna, FSSAI chairperson who also holds additional charge as its CEO, told The Indian Express.

Bahuguna said instant noodles are not standardised products. They cannot bring it in market without approval. "They have got no permission from authorities to sell noodles," he added.

Calling the reports misleading, Patanjali Yogpeeth (Trust) released a press statement on Wednesday morning. "In context with misleading news published today in newspapers regarding Patanjali Atta Noodles, we categorically state that we have followed all FSSAI rules and guidelines and committed no violation," the press release read.

Baba Ramdev's spokesperson AK Tijarawala said, "According to the rules notified by FSSAI itself in August this year, there is no legal binding to take separate licence for launching noodles."

Patanjali Atta noodles is priced at Rs 15 with FSSAI licence number 10014012000266. However, Bahuguna told The Indian Express : “How can licence be given for a product that has not been approved? Licences are issued by the state government to manufacture certain items. But approvals for (non-standardised) products are given by us. That approval was not taken. I do not know how the licence was procured.”

The Baba Ramdev-owned Patanjali group had a turnover of Rs 1,200 crore in 2014 and a projected turnover of Rs 2,000 crore in 2015.

The FSSAI in June 2015 tested Maggi samples collected from different states in the wake of the Uttar Pradesh FSDA finding mono-sodium glutamate and lead in excess of the prescribed limit in the instant noodles. The government had said Maggi brand ambassadors will also be liable for action if advertisements are found to be misleading.

Maggi noodles was taken off shelves weeks later and Nestle was caught in a legal war against the government decision. Nestle India had to destroy noodles worth Rs 320 crore after the ban.

Nestle India resumed sales of its popular 2-minute noodle brand Maggi from November 9, and it was an instant hit among consumers. The company has partnered with Snapdeal for Maggi's comeback. Nestle India said Maggi will not be available in 8 states that have still banned the product

Patanjali Atta Noodles was launched a week after Nestle's Maggi made a comeback to retail shelves after a 5-month ban was imposed on it by the food-safety regulator.

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