Food Safety & Standard vis a vis Public Health in India | Kalpeshkumar L Gupta


Food Safety & Standard vis a vis Public Health in India
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Food Safety & Standard vis a vis Public Health in India

Food Safety & Standard vis a vis Public Health in India

By – Dr. Kalpeshkumar L Gupta*

Safe & Healthy food is basic requirement of a human being. It is evident that day by day quality of food is degrading because of strict law and its implementation. Plastic Rice and Fake Eggs are in news nowadays. This shows highest level of mal practices in food sectors in India and around the world.

In India there were many laws on different kind of foods like The Prevention of Foods Adulteration Act, 1954, The Fruit Products Order, 1955, The Meat Food Products Order, 1973, The Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947, The Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998, The Solvent Extracted Oil, De oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967, The Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992 in India. This created lot of confusion in the minds of consumers, traders, manufactures and investors. Thus there was a need of comprehensive law to deal with this complexities. In 1998, the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry appointed Subject Group on Food and Agro Industries, which had recommended for one comprehensive legislation on Food with a Food Regulatory Authority concerning both domestic and export markets. Joint Parliamentary Committee on Pesticides Residues in its report in 2004 emphasized the need to converge all present food laws and to have a single regulatory body. The Committee expressed its concern on public health and food safety in India. The Standing Committee of Parliament on Agriculture in its 12th Report submitted in April, 2005 desired that the much needed legislation on integrated Food Law should be expedited. Law Commission of India was also asked to make a comprehensive review of food laws of various developing and developed countries. In this background, the Group of Ministers constituted by the Government of India, held extensive deliberation and approved the proposed Integrated Food laws with certain modifications. Finally Food Standard & Safety Bill passed by parliament and received accent of President in 2006. Main objectives of this act is to consolidate the laws relating to food and to establish the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) or laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

Food Safety Officer (FSO) appointed under Section 37 plays crucial role in enforcement of provisions of this act. FSO has been given powers under Section 38 of the act. He may take a sample of any food, or any substance, which appears to him to be intended for sale, or to have been sold for human consumption; or of any article of food or substance which is found by him on or in any such premises; which he has reason to believe that it may be required as evidence in proceedings under this act. He can seize any article which appears to him to be in contravention of this act or the regulations made thereunder. He may enter and inspect any place where the article of food is manufactured, or stored for sale, or stored for the manufacture of any other article of food, or exposed or exhibited for sale and where any adulterant is manufactured or kept, and take samples of such articles of food or adulterant for analysis.

FSSAI came into news only after Maggi Case. Most of the people came to know about the law on food standard and safety after this big issue. FSO in Uttar Pradesh took the sample and initiated action against Nestle Company. As per Annual Reports analysed, most number of samples are taken in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat. Uttar Pradesh is in top in terms of number of samples found adulterated. In many states there not enough FSO who can help in proper enforcement of this ambitious law. On the contrary in some states like Tamil Nadu, sufficient number of FSOs but less number of samples taken compared to other states. There are cases where FSOs do not go on field to take samples, take bribe from food business operators which leads to poor public health in the society. Some states are not submitting information to FSSAI well in time for preparing Annual Report which does not show complete picture of all activities carried out by authority.

FSSAI has done very good job in last one decade compared to previous bunch of legislations. Many cases have come up before us because of efficiency and effective in action of authority. Looking at recent cases as mentioned in beginning of this article, FSSAI needs to be alert to avoid any mishappenings.

*Dr. Kalpeshkumar L Gupta is the Founder of ProBono India 
References “-
1. Bare Act on The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 published by Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.
3. Annual Reports published by FSSAI