New Delhi: Weeks after regulatory action forced Nestle to pull out popular snack Maggi, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan Tuesday said the government has nothing against the Swiss food maker and was only probing the complaint.
Paswan said consumer health is paramount and the Maggi controversy has created awareness about food safety in the country, even as he assured that the government was against any kind of "inspector raj".
"The Maggi issue is an isolated case. There is nothing to fear. Black sheeps are there everywhere. No big company wants to sell sub-standard food products. One wrong incident/product does not mean that the company itself is bad," Paswan told reporters after the launch of a food safety initiative here.
The regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is investigating the Maggi issue as it has received complaints against the product, he added.
Paswan further said, "If something comes to the government's notice, it has to take action. If some complain about the product comes to FSSAI, it has to be investigated. It does not mean that the company is bad or good."
The Consumer Affairs Ministry has also received complaints against Maggi noodles and hence is filing a class action suit against Nestle India for the first time.
The minister also observed that there is too much criticism against FSSAI if it takes strict action, while the authority is also blamed if it does not take any measures to curb sale of sub-standard food products in the market.
"There is this dichotomy. Our priority is consumer health. From president to peon, everyone is consumer. We don't want people visit doctor due to consumption of sub-standard food. The Maggi episode has created awareness about food safety in the country," he said.
On some states' demand to shift the FSSAI from the Union Healthy Ministry to the Consumer Affairs Ministry, the minister said: "FSSAI is an independent regulatory body. It does not make any difference if the authority is in Health or Consumer Affairs Ministry. The government's main concern is that FSSAI should ensure food safety."
Last month, FSSAI had banned Maggi for being "unsafe and hazardous" for human consumption after it found excessive levels of lead and taste enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG). Nestle India had to recall Maggi from markets, while some other companies also later withdrew similar products.
"We want consumers get safe food products. Be it Maggi or any other product, we don't want to create panic in the market. We don't want to impose inspector raj," Paswan said.
To protect consumers interest, Paswan said the government has proposed major changes to the existing Consumer Protection Act to protect consumer rights and simplify the judicial process to ensure speedy and inexpensive justice.