To curb the problem of adulteration, first, it was necessary to lay down a concrete definition of what comprises of adulterated food. This happened, for the first time, in 1938.
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act (1938) provided that food is "adulterated" if it meets any one of the following criteria:
- it bears or contains any "poisonous or deleterious substance" which may render it injurious to health;
- it bears or contains any added poisonous or added deleterious substance (other than a pesticide residue, food additive, colour additive, or new animal drug, which are covered by separate provisions) that is unsafe;
- its container is composed, in whole or in part, of any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render the contents injurious to health; or
- it bears or contains a pesticide chemical residue that is unsafe. Food also meets the definition of adulteration if:
- it is, or it bears or contains an unsafe food additive;
- it is, or it bears or contains an unsafe new animal drug;
- it is, or it bears or contains an unsafe colour additive;
- it consists, in whole or in part, of "any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance" or is otherwise unfit for food; or
- it has been prepared, packed, or held under unsanitary conditions (insect, rodent, or bird infestation) whereby it may have become contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.
As per the latest reports, some of the most commonly occurring heavy metals in our daily foods are cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury. All of these lead to serious health implications, primarily causing damage to healthy tissue.
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
The Government of India brought a comprehensive and consolidated legislation in the form of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, to curb the predicament of Food Adulteration. The punishments for the offences in 1954 Act were set out and every once in a while, considering the gravity of the issue, fitting authoritative revisions were made and the offences were classified culpable with discipline broadening up to life imprisonment. The salient features of the PFA Act include objective, the definition of food, meaning of adulterant, concept of adulteration, misbranded items, the sale of certain 7 Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) admixtures, relevant committees, analysts, the procedure for sampling & analysis, penalties and important miscellaneous provisions. For the benefit of a learner like you, the small description of the major features of the Act are given below in a simplified way so that it is easier for you to understand.
The Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006
The Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, which repealed the above-specified legislation, provides for penalties in case of any non-compliance. Generally, non-compliance with various provisions of the FSSA may attract a penalty of up to Two Lakh Rupees . However, under Section 63 , it provides that if any person or food business operator (except the persons exempted from licensing under sub-section (2) of Section 31 of FSSA), himself or by any person on his behalf who is required to obtain license, manufacturers, sells, stores or distributes or imports any article of food without license, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months and also with a fine which may extend to Five Lakh Rupees .
States in India show contamination in water & milk. In water, Chandigarh showed 100 per cent adulteration, Jharkhand 75 per cent, Andhra Pradesh 70 percent, Karnataka 66 per cent and Tamil Nadu 58 percent out of the samples collected for testing from each state or union territory.In milk too, there are many absentees as per the reports in states including Gujarat, Delhi, West Bengal, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. One-fifth of food items in the market, tested by government labs in the year 2012, were either substandard or adulterated, records of the health and family welfare ministry have revealed.
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