There are a large number of cases registered against traders under the old Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFAA) 1954 and are pending in various courts across the country. Some of the cases are still in the initial stages of legal procedures even though they were registered 20 years back. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Chandigarh Chapter has appealed to the government to withdraw charges against traders who have been booked under the old Act.
The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has received directions from the PMO to take the requisite action against these long pending cases of adulteration that had been registered under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 on the plea of CAIT. According to the old Act adulterants are substances which are used for making food products unsafe for human consumption. Under the previous food laws any food product with lowered or degraded quality used to be defined as Adulterated Food.
According to the new Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006 adulteration means:
- Substandard Food: Not meeting the standards but may not really be unsafe, like adding water in milk.
- Misbranded Food: False, misbranding or deceptive claims either on the label of the package, or through an advertisement.
- Containing Extraneous Matter: The following are considered adulterants under this if
- a substance is added directly or as an ingredient or additive which is not allowed under the law.
- food contains pesticides and other contaminants in excess of quantities specified by regulations
- food is processed unhygienically
CAIT has put forward some suggestions and the first option is that of compounding all offences. They have also suggested the initiation of a fast track court or speedy arbitration to decide on the pending cases so that they can be cleared as soon as possible. This will enable traders to carry out their food business without any obstacles. Previously also the Chandigarh Chapter of CAIT had taken up the issue with former Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
PFFA is no longer the authority as all food related issues now come under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. So CAIT is of the opinion that cases pending under the old Act no longer have merit as the Act itself has been replaced. CAIT is hopeful of some relief as the Prime Minister’s Office has already directed the FSSAI to take necessary and appropriate action.