Essential Commodities Act, 1955 The main objective of the Act is to regulate the manufacture, commerce, and distribution of essential commodities, including food. A number of Control Orders have been promulgated under the provisions of this Act. These are:
- Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 and the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977: The Act governs sale of packaged commodities and provides for mandatory registration of all packaged products in the country.
- Consumer Protection Act, 1986:The Act provides for constitution of District Forum/State/National Commission for settlement of disputes between the seller/service provider and the consumer.
- The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992 and Rules 1993: This Act aims at promoting breast feeding and ensuring proper use of infant milk substitutes and infant food.
- The Insecticide Act, 1968: The Act envisages safe use of insecticides so as to ensure that the leftover chemical residues do not pose any health hazard.
- Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act, 1963: The Act aims at facilitating export trade through quality control and inspection before the products are sold to international buyers.
- Environment Protection Act, 1986: This Act incorporates rules for the manufacture, use, import and storage of hazardous microorganisms / substances / cells used as foodstuff.
- Pollution Control (Ministry of Environment and Forests): A no-objection certificate from the respective State Pollution Control Board is essential for all dairy plants.
Harmonization of food laws
Government of India took initiation for the harmonization of various laws and acts related to food Safety and the regulatory standards for food safety. As a result of many meetings and deliberations, GOI passed a bill in parliament of India for the Food Safety and StandardsBill.2006 for Harmonization of food standards and single platform for food safety regulatory standards.
Food safety and standards act, 2006
The law established in the year 2006
Salient features of the Act:
- The Act integrates eight different food related statutes i.e Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 , Fruit Products Order , 1955, Meat Food Products Order , 1973, Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947,Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation)Order 1988, Solvent Extracted Oil, De- Oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967, Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992 .
- The Act also aims to establish a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards, by moving from multi-level, multi-departmental control to a single line of command.
- The Act prescribes general provisions for the following articles of food:
- Food additives / processing aids are to be added only in accordance with provisions / regulations under the Act;
- Foods are not to contain any insecticides or pesticides residues, veterinary drugs residues, antibiotic residues, solvent residues, pharmacological active substances and micro-biological contaminants in excess of limits prescribed under the regulation;
- Regulations to be made for the manufacture, distribution or trade of any novel foods, genetically modified foods,irradiated foods, organic foods, foods for special dietary uses, functional foods, nutraceuticals, health supplements, proprietary foods, etc.
- The Act prohibits advertisements which are misleading or deceiving or contravenes the provisions of this Act, and prohibits unfair trade practices.
- All imports of articles of food are subject to this Act. No person shall import any unsafe or misbranded or sub-standard food or food containing extraneous matter.
- The Act impose the responsibility on the food business operator to ensure that the articles of food satisfy the requirements of this Act at all stages of production, processing, import, distribution and sale within the businesses under his control.
- The Act also imposes certain liabilities on the manufacturers, packers, wholesalers, distributors and sellers if an article of food fails to meet the requirements of this Act.
- The Act compels the establishment of food recall procedures.
- The Act compel licensing and registration of food business. Small business operators and temporary stall holders are exempted from the license but need to get their businesses registered with the local municipality.
- The Act provides general provisions relating to offences and penalties for failure to comply with the requirements of this Act. The Act makes provision for graded penalties where offenses like manufacturing, storing or selling misbranded or sub-standard food is punished with a fine, and more serious offences with imprisonment.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
- The Act establishes the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as an apex regulatory authority consisting of a Chairperson and 22 members.
- The Act provides the general administrative principles to be followed by the Central Government, State Governments, and FSSAI while implementing the provisions of this Act.
The functions of the FSSAI
- Framing of Regulations to lay down the Standards and guidelines in relation to articles of food and specifying appropriate system of enforcing various standards thus notified.
- Laying down mechanisms and guidelines for accreditation of certification bodies engaged in certification of food safety management system for food businesses.
- Laying down procedure and guidelines for accreditation of laboratories and notification of the accredited laboratories.
- To provide scientific advice and technical support to Central Government and State Governments in the matters of framing the policy and rules in areas which have a direct or indirect bearing of food safety and nutrition.
- Collect and collate data regarding food consumption, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, contaminants in food, residues of various, and contaminants in foods products, identification of emerging risks and introduction of rapid alert system.
- Creating an information network across the country so that the public, consumers, Panchayats etc receive rapid, reliable and objective information about food safety and issues of concern.
- Provide training programmes for persons who are involved or intend to get involved in food businesses.
- Contribute to the development of international technical standards for food, sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.
- Promote general awareness about food safety and food standards.