Those adulterating food products could face life imprisonment and penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh as per the amendments proposed by the regulator FSSAI in its 2006 food safety and standards law.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recommended stringent punishment to curb food adulteration following the Supreme Court order.
The FSSAI has issued the draft amendments to the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, which was passed in 2006 but the regulations were notified only in 2011.
The regulator has proposed total 100 amendments to the Act and has sought public comments by July 2.
Among key amendments, FSSAI has proposed to include a new section to crack down on food adulteration.
“Any person…adds an adulterant to food so as to render it injurious for human consumption with an inherent potential to cause his death or is likely to cause grievous hurt, irrespective of the fact whether it causes actual injury or not, shall be punishable for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine which shall not be less than Rs 10 lakh,” the FSSAI said.
Giving rationale behind the proposed amendment, the regulator said this has been done to provide stringent punishment in cases where an adulterant is added to food with an intent to render it unsafe for human consumption.
“It is also in the light of the directions of the Supreme Court,” it added.
The new Consumer Protection Bill, which is pending in Parliament, also proposes similar quantum of stringent punishment for adulteration.
Among other amendments, FSSAI has proposed setting of state food safety authorities so that this law can be enforced in letter and spirit.
It has also proposed increase in the punishment for obstructing, impersonating, intimidating and threatening and assaulting a food safety officer.
The regulatory body has recommended imprisonment of not less than 6 months and up to two years, besides penalty of up to Rs 5 lakh. At present, the imprisonment is up to three months and fine is up to Rs 1 lakh.
The FSSAI has further proposed that a person convicted under this law will have to pay fees and other expenses incidental to the analysis of any food or food contact article in respect of which the conviction is obtained and any other reasonable expenses incurred by the prosecution.
This has been proposed in line with provision of Singapore’s Sale of Food Act.
The other amendments include regulation of exported food products under the FSS Act. Presently, it covers only sale of food items in domestic market and also imported ones.