Following the Supreme Court’s order, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has moved ahead to take stringent measures against food adulteration with a series of amendments, under which severe punishments like life imprisonment and a penalty of up to ₹10 lakh will be slapped on defaulting parties.
As more and more consumers come forward with complaints about food products being contaminated with serious and even life-threatening adulterants, the national regulator’s decision comes in the right hour.
The measures include a total of 100 draft amendments to the existing Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, and the FSSAI has sought public comments by July 2, as per the Times of India.
“Any person who adds an adulterant to food so as to render it injurious for human consumption with an inherent potential to cause his death or is likely to cause grievous hurt, irrespective of the fact whether it causes actual injury or not, shall be punishable for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine which shall not be less than ₹10 lakh,” the FSSAI said.
According to the body, the justification behind the move is to identify cases where an adulterant is added to food with the intent of rendering it unsafe for human consumption and impose severe penalisations to the defaulting agencies. “It is also in the light of the directions of the Supreme Court,” it added.
In its amendments, FSSAI has also proposed instating food safety authorities at the state level to enforce the law in letter and spirit. Other recommendations include increasing the punishment for obstructing, impersonating, intimidating, threatening and assaulting a food safety officer.
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Additionally, it has proposed that sentenced parties would have to pay the fees and other expenses incidental to the analysis of any food or food contact article for which the conviction is obtained and any other reasonable expenses incurred by the prosecution.
Imprisonment of not less than six months and up to two years, besides a penalty of up to ₹5 lakh has been put forward by FSSAI, which is definitely more severe than the current 3-month detention and ₹1 lakh fine. All the recommendations have been proposed in line with the provisions of Singapore’s Sale of Food Act.
Few months back, FSSAI had launched a mobile testing service in Chennai as part of its food adulteration tackling measures, under which a laboratory-equipped van has been circling the neighbourhoods in the city to teach people how to spot adulteration in food samples including dairy products, spices and condiments, edible oils, salt and food grains through 40 simple and quick tests collectively known as “Deduct Adulteration With Rapid Test” (DART).
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)