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India food authority challenges lifting ban on Nestle's Maggi

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India's food safety authority has appealed to the country's top court against a regional court order overturning a nationwide ban on Maggi instant noodles sold by the local unit of Nestle SA, a lawyer for the authority said on Monday.

[MUMBAI] India's food safety authority has appealed to the country's top court against a regional court order overturning a nationwide ban on Maggi instant noodles sold by the local unit of Nestle SA, a lawyer for the authority said on Monday.

Nestle India resumed selling its popular Maggi noodles this month after getting the green light from government laboratories, as mandated by the Bombay High Court in August.

The appeal, if admitted by the Supreme Court, could upset the Swiss food giant's plans to revive Maggi sales after Indian regulators reported in May that some packets of the noodles contained unsafe levels of lead.

Nestle India can continue selling the noodles for now. "We have filed the plea in the Supreme Court," Mansoor Khan, a lawyer for the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a government body, said. He said the appeal had been filed against the Bombay High Court verdict in favour of Nestle.

The FSSAI petition in the Supreme Court says the regional court erred by asking Nestle itself, instead of asking a neutral authority, to provide the fresh Maggi samples for testing at the government laboratories, according to the Hindu newspaper. "It has been brought to our attention that the Supreme Court website has posted that the Food Safety and Standards Authority has filed a case against Nestle India Ltd and others," a Nestle India spokesman said in a statement. "We have not been served a notice about this and are not yet aware of its content. However, we would like to reiterate that Nestle India is confident of the quality and safety of Maggi noodles and so we will defend ourselves vigorously." FSSAI chief Ashish Bahuguna declined to comment.

REUTERS