The government’s move to prohibit use of animal origin material in the manufacture of silver leaf that is used as a decoration on sweets was on Friday stayed by the Delhi High Court. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar put on hold the operation of a 2016 amendment to the Food Safety and Standards regulations by which use of animal origin material for making silver leaf was prohibited.
The court issued a notice to the Ministry of Health, which notified the amendment, and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) seeking their stand on a PIL challenging the changed standards of silver leaf and which was to come into effect from August 1 this year. The bench said that its order and the petition be placed before the Ministry of Health for consideration of the aspect of labelling or marking as non-vegetarian the products using the silver leaf and an affidavit be filed before the next date of hearing on August 29.
The court stayed the operation of the July 15, 2016, notification, by which the amendment was notified, saying if it was not put on hold then nearly 1.5 lakh people engaged in the manufacture of the item, as claimed in the PIL, would be on the streets without a job. The amendment in standards of the silver leaf has been challenged by five persons who represent several family-run units which are engaged in the manufacture of silver leaf or ‘chandi ka warq’ by traditional methods.
The traditional method of manufacture involves hammering the silver leaf into a thin shape while it is placed inside the intestine of a cow or buffalo. Advocate Amit Dubey, appearing for the petitioners, said the animal membrane is treated with herbs and no animal DNA is passed on to the silver leaf, which is also used in unani and ayurvedic medicines.They have claimed in their plea that the silver leaf manufactured by
They have claimed in their plea that the silver leaf manufactured by traditional process, in vogue for hundreds of years, was tested in the labs to confirm that no animal DNA is present on the item. The petitioners have sought quashing of the notification, saying it endangers their only source of income.