There are millions of Indian consumers who are dependent on the Food Safety Regulations, so that they get safe and unadulterated food. However, the cases of adulteration are on the rise as can be seen from the numerous cases in the courts and also from the number of representations made by food business operators. In 2013-14 there were 72,000 samples analysed and out of these 13,571 were found to be adulterated as they failed the laboratory quality tests. Civil and criminal proceedings have been filed in over 10,325 cases.
The matter of food contamination was raised in the parliament and health Minister JP Nadda informed the Lok Sabha that the FSSAI rules and regulations will be reviewed. Legislation dealing with food adulteration will be made more stringent particularly for milk and to prevent large scale food adulteration in the country. The government is all set to increase manpower and infrastructure to handle this serious issue. Section 57 & 59 of FSS Act, 2006 define the provisions of penalties for possessing adulterant & unsafe food.
The penalties included
- imprisonment of a minimum seven years and up to life plus a fine of Rs. 10 lakh as penalty for causing death
- six years imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh for grievous harm caused by unsafe food intake
- one year in jail and Rs. 3 lakh fine for non- grievous harm
- a fine of upto Rs. 3 lakh for misbranding
The matter of food contamination was raised in the parliament. It was brought to the notice of the parliament that everything from water to milk and food products were contaminated. Concerns were also raised over the use of oxytocin injection that are said to increase the volume of milk in cows. Voices were also raised about the unregulated use of pesticides in poultry products and how this has become a serious health hazard. There was a demand for swift action to curb the menace.
Health Minister JP Nadda informed the Lok Sabha that a special task force had been constituted to study the rampant adulteration in all forms of food products especially milk. The Minister also said that the contaminated foods have increased the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCD). He also blamed the state governments for the poor implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act. He said the levels of punishment could be increased if necessary.
On the other hand Minister of Consumer Affairs, Ram Vilas Paswan said that data available with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs showed that almost four out of five food product samples tested last year under food safety laws, failed the quality test. Almost 87.3 per cent of the samples tested were found to be adulterated. He acknowledged that food safety infrastructure was missing in a majority of states. Also, none of the states had sent him details of persons prosecuted for adulteration despite asking. This makes it difficult to enforce the law as health is a state subject.