Food : What do we understand by the Food Law ?
|What do we understand by the Food Law ?
It’s right of every human being to get pure and wholesome food. In view of this , the parliament of India enacted the law, ‘The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954’ and the Rules to this Act are known as ‘The Prevention of Food Adulteration and Rules 1955’. The preamble of the law narrates It’s the law to safeguard the interest of public as a consumer of food and beverages¸ to get it in pure and hygienic way.
“ For legal reference the law books are available with all law book sellers. ”
The main synopsis of the law is briefly given below :
1. Definitions – ( Sec .2 of the Act )
2. Offences – ( Sec .7 of the Act )
3. Duties & Powers of enforcing officers. –( rule 9 and Sec.10 of the Act)
4. Penalties - ( Sec 16 and 17of the Act)
5. Procedures part provided under rules. – (rule 14 to rule22 of the Act)
6. Standardisation of Food and beverages. – ( rule Appendix B and C of the Act)
What is Food ? ( Sec 2 (v) )
Food is defined as any article solid or liquid, which generally enters in the human system, is an article of food. However food does not include any drug or water (except packaged drinking water / mineral water).Further any such article as declared by the central government as a food shall be considered as food.
What is an adulteration ? ( Sec 2 ( ia) )
By a plain meaning of an adulteration¸ we understand that, mixing and thereby making the substance unwholesome. However the law has considered that adulteration with wide scope, the definition of Adulteration given under Section 2¸ is narrated for understanding.
1. If the article is not sold as per the nature, quality and substance as it should be.
2. Mixing of inferior or cheaper substance to affect the nature and quality seriously.
3. If ingredients are removed to affect quality and nature of the substance seriously.
4. If the article is unhygenically prepared or stored under unsanitary conditions to affect the health.
5. If the article is composed of any filthy, rotten or insect infested making it unfit for consumption.
6. If article contains any poisons or toxic ingredient harmful to health.
7. If the article contains any non - permitted colour or permitted colour more than 100 Parts Per Million.
8. If the article is not in accordance with the standards fixed under the law.
What is an Misbranding ? ( Sec 2 (ix) of the Act )
Another important aspect is misbranded Food article; the definition of Misbranded is given under Section 2. It can be understood briefly as:
a. ] If the article is imitation or substitute to deceive.
b. ] If the label claims are not proper, deceptive¸ false¸ misleading or exaggerated.
Offences under the law are given in Section 7 of the Act, where by no person shall manufacture for sale¸ store for sale or sell any¸
(1) Adulterated food
(2) Misbranded food
(3) Non compliance of licence conditions.
(4) Article which is prohibited by Food (Health) Authority
(5) Article in contravention to any provision under the Act
(6) Any adulterant .
The law has been framed to protect the social interest, at large¸ hence the offences under this Act are considered of serious and of anti-social nature. Therefore serious penalties are provided to make it’s effect deterrent; the provisions are made under Section 16 and 17.
For selling adulterated or misbranded food article and any offence under the Act the penalty is
1. Imprisonment for minimum period of 6 months and fine of minimum Rs.1000/-
2. For offences related to licence; the penalty is little less.
3. The Act considers vicarious liability as the principle. Therefore for an establishment run by more than single individual, each individual is held liable for the offence. However the Act also gives relief to such establishments by appointing a nominee on behalf of such establishment.
4. Such establishment has to register a nominee before a Local (Health) Authority in Those jurisdiction such establishment is located.
The law is enforced by the Food Inspectors at field level. The Food Inspectors are empowered to exercise duties entrusted upon them.
Powers of Food Inspectors : ( Sec 10 of the Act )
1. Food Inspectors can inspect any premises, where sale of food is involved ¸ including transportation.
2. Food Inspectors are authorised to draw samples of any food articles meant for sale. It is important to note that the seller cannot oppose for drawing of samples by Food Inspector.
3. Sale of food article to a Food Inspector for the purpose of analysis is considered as sale in general terms.
4. Food Inspectors are empowered to seize or prohibit any suspicious food article in the interest of public health .
5. While collecting the sample for analysis Food Inspectors is duty bound to pay reasonable price of such article.
6. The seized or prohibited stocks shall be kept in the possession of the possessor.
7. Food Inspector can break open any premises or any package suspected to contain any food article, if refused to do so¸ by its possessor.
8. Food Inspectors is also empowered to arrest any person¸ on disclosing false name and address.
9. Food Inspectors can seize any adulterant and can seize any of the documents or book of accounts, registers concerning it.
10. For any action taken by the Food Inspector, law requires that it shall be done in presence of one or two persons.
11. The Food Inspector is liable for penalty¸ if he takes any vexatious action or does any act without reasonable ground; however action taken in good faith and in the interest of public is protected by law.
Procedure of collecting samples: ( Sec 11 and rule 14 to rule 22 )
1. The Food Inspector selects , demands and purchases. Food articles to be taken for sampling.
2. The cost of such article is to be paid to the seller and to obtain its receipt.
3. Informs the seller his intention of sampling.
4. Informs the seller to furnish the source of procuring the sample.
5. The purchased article is divided into 3 portions .Each portion is kept in proper suitable container.
6. Such containers are tightly closed and sealed.
7. Further, each portion is wrapped in paper.
8. Paper slip having signature and code of Local [Health] Authority is pasted on each portion on which the seller puts his signature.
9. Each container is tied by a strong twine¸ and again it is sealed at 4 places.
10. All 3 sealed portions are taken possession by the Food Inspectors.
11. If the remaining stock is seized or prohibited notice in accordance to that effect is issued to the seller.
Analysis: ( Sec 8 ,Sec 13 and rule 7)
On the same day or next working day one portion is to be sent to Public Analyst for analysis and two portions are sent in the custody of Local [Health] Authority.
Analytical Laboratories (Sec 8 )
The analytical laboratories are in existence in the state under dept. of Public Health. They are at following places.
1. State Public Health Laboratory, Pune.
It is the Apex Laboratory of the state & is also declared as Central Food Laboratory for State.
2. Regional Public Health Laboratories are at :
|3. District Public Health Laboratories are at :
- New Mumbai,
In addition to these MCGB has laboratory in Mumbai.
Public Analysts are appointed in these laboratories¸ who analyses the samples and delivers it’s report¸ within 40 days from date of receipt.
The Public analyst verifies sealed portion and shall cause to analyse the food article.
2. The analysis is done as per the methodologies laid down by Director General of Health Services.
3. The Public analyst sends its report to the Local (Health) Authority.
Action on analytical reports :
1) Where the sample is reported of the genuine quality¸ no further action is needed to be taken , however if the report is found erroneous the Local (Health) Authority is empowered to send another portion of sample from his custody to any other public analyst for reanalysis. (Sec 13(2-E) )
2) Where the sample is reported to be adulterated or misbranded its duty of Food Inspector to make necessary inquiry and investigation to detect the offenders. (rule 9)
3) Proposal to be submitted to seek orders regarding action to be taken against the offenders. (Sec 20)
4) After receiving the orders from Joint Commissioner of his division, a criminal prosecution is launched against the accused persons.
From 15th Jan 2008 the State Govt. has substituted Sec. 20 by which all offences are made cognizable and non-bail able and Police Inspector or officer of above rank are empowered to arrest any person without warrant¸ having reasonable grounds.
All offences under this Act shall be tried summarily, however as a judicial practice they are being tried by follow up warrant procedure. State Govt. had recently issued notification empowering the judicial magistrates to try the cases summarily. This change will help speedy disposal of cases.