Food Adulteration in India: The Problem and Law
By Team Legistify / 2016-05-09
Adulterating the quality of food to increase its longevity and taste in order to increase profit comes at the heavy cost of health of the millions consuming it, jeopardizing the future of the country by making available noxious consumables to the younger generation.

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Humans have adulterated food to increase its longevity or to improve its taste since prehistoric times. In ancient Rome and Greece, wine was often mixed with honey, herbs, spices and even saltwater, chalk or lead, which served as both a sweetener and a preservative. In middle ages, adulteration of food began for profit purposes, traders mixed spices with cheap substitutes. By the end of the 19th century, the rise of analytic chemistry enabled manufacturers to mask food deterioration in ways that were tough to detect. At the same time, homegrown elixirs, tinctures and “medicines” containing opium, cocaine, heroin and other drugs were sold without restriction, warnings or ingredient labels.

Adulterated food has direct consequences on the health of the consumers. As processed foods with multiple ingredients are increasingly sourced from numerous countries and the supply chain has become more complex, tracing the sources of contamination- intentional or not- has become a significant challenge.

A Criminal Offence

The Indian Penal code, 1860, lays down certain provisions criminalising the act of adulterating food items and also selling of consumables unfit or noxious for consumption. Sections with regard to food safety are:

  1. Section 272 -  Whoever adulterates any article of food or drink, so as to make such article noxious as food or drink, intending to sell such article as food or drink, or knowing it to be likely that the same will be sold as food or drink, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
  2. Section 273 - Sale of noxious food or drink- Whoever sells, or offers of exposes for sale, as food or drink, an article which has bee rendered or has become noxious, or is in a state unfit for food or drink, knowing or having reason to believe that the same is noxious as food or drink, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
Adulterating the quality of food to increase its longevity and taste in order to increase profit comes at the heavy cost of health of the millions consuming it, jeopardizing the future of the country by making available noxious consumables to the younger generation.

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Get connected to the Best Lawyers and Chartered Accountants Near You!


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