NCDRC president seeks clarity on best before and expiry dates for food
Consumers get confused about labels printed on food items and hence, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) should look into labelling issues related to ‘expiry date’ and ‘best before,’ according to Justice D K Jain, president, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). He made this observation while speaking at an event to mark the National Consumer Day here recently.
He stressed that safe and healthy food was a constitutional mandate. He added that there has to be stringent provisions in place to combat food adulteration. Hence, FSSAI has to look into the matter and resolve the confusion of best before date and expiry date.
Jain expressed concern over increasing reports of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements about consumer goods and products. He said that strict regulations were required to check these malpractices and suggested review of packaged commodity rules to safeguard the interests of consumers.
Ashish Bahuguna, chairman, FSSAI, who was present on the occasion, said that consumer awareness was key to ensure effective implementation of food safety standards and wherever necessary these standards would be reviewed and made more stringent.
He felt that for promoting healthy food, there was a need to focus on label. There is a need to change norms of labelling.
Meanwhile, Ram Vilas Paswan, minister for food and consumer affairs, said, “With opening up of the economy, various consumer goods and services have entered into the Indian market. To meet the changed situation, we have introduced new Consumer Protection Bill and new Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Bill to prevent unfair trade practices, to effectively deal with adulteration of food, misleading advertisements and speed up the disposal, which will have far reaching implications.”
He added, “Proposed amendments will enable swift executive intervention in the nature of class action both to prevent consumer detriment and provide redressal to a class of consumers.”
The minister stated that more products concerning health, environment and safety would be brought under compulsory certification and non-conforming standard marked goods would be recalled from the market.
Paswan said that to supplement the government efforts and create effective consumer awareness, industrial organisations should try and help out. He said that self-regulatory code should be evolved and implemented in sectors like street food. Paswan said that his department was ready to be a partner in this venture. He asked BIS and FSSAI to review together existing food safety regulations and see how they could be made more effective in the interest of the consumers.