To understand as how The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 came into existence after the various food laws were repealed, let us delve into the history of the various food acts and Orders that were prevalent prior to the formation of the FSSA. Presently the primary law for food regulations and food safety is the FSS Act, 2006. However, before the FSSA came into existence food products were monitored by a number of Acts and Orders. The first significant food act was the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act of 1937 popularly known as ‘Agmark’. This Act was later amended several times and the 1986 version continues to be used on commodities even now.
After independence the government felt a need to address issues like adulteration so the Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order’, 1947 was the first food order enacted to ensure cooking oil for all. One of the most significant early food acts was the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) 1954. The PFA governed aspects of sanitation, licensing and other necessary permits that are required to start and run a food business. A number of other laws were created which were mainly directed against prevention of fraud and adulteration rather than consumer health and food safety like
- Essential Commodities Act, 1955
- The Fruit Products Order, 1955
- The Solvent Extracted Oil, De oiled Meal, and Edible Flour Order, 1967.
- The Meat Food Products Order, 1973
- The Edible Oils Packaging Order, 1988
- The Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992
These Acts and Orders were revised and new ones came into existence from time to time as the need arose. The Government realised that there was multiplicity of food laws which often hampered the work of food regulation and food safety as well as stalled the FBOs from getting product approvals and permits for running a business. Seeing how inadequate the miscellaneous acts and orders were proving, the PM’s council on Trade & Industry recommended a comprehensive legislation on food artin 1988. In 2004, the Joint Parliamentary Committee emphasized that there should be just one regulatory body for the whole of India. The Bill on Food Safety & Standards was passed by both houses of parliament and became an Act on August 2, 2006.
Soon after the formation of the FSSA the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was formed as a statutory body authorised under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. FSSAI is the single reference point for all matters relating to Food Safety and Standards, Regulations and Enforcement. After the formation of the FSS Act, 2006 a number of Acts and Orders that no longer served any purpose were repealed.
Repealed Acts and Orders
- The Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order 1998
- Fruit Products Order (FPO), 1955
- Meat Food Products Order (MFPO) DIVISION
- Milk and Milk Product Amendment Regulations, 2009
- Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,1954
- Solvent Extracted Oil, De-oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967
- Vegetable Oil Product Order, 1980
Before these Acts and Orders were repealed, a number of cases were filed against FBOs who were charged with offences under these Acts and Orders. The FSSAI has now given directions to the Commissioners of Food Safety of the States and UTs to examine all such pending cases with a view to withdrawing them if Food Safety Commissioners consider it appropriate.
The reasons FSSAI has given for the withdrawal of these cases are one that the cases were filed under the repealed Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and other Orders that have been specified in Schedule 2 of the FSS Act, 2006. There are numerous cases pending in various courts across the country and these are just causing a burden on the judiciary especially as the offences alleged to have been committed
- may not be of a serious nature
- the penalties and punishments prescribed might not be all that substantial
Pursuing these cases is also diverting the resources of the government which are scarce and which could be used more constructively in the effective implementation of the FSS Act, 2006 so consumers are provided safe and wholesome food.
The FSSAI adds that if the Commissioners of Food Safety of States/UTs should find it appropriate to withdraw such pending cases, filed under repealed Acts and Orders, then they must share the information of the outcome of such withdrawal with the FSSAI from time to time.