Food Adulteration: Regulatory Mechanism
In the backof recent milk adulteration crisis in the state and subsequent cognisance taken by the court here is a regulatory framework laid out by FSSAI act 2006 and subsequent guidelines for its implementation
How serious is the menace can be gauged from The Annual Public Laboratory Testing Report for 2014-15 brought out by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) that says ‘the 49,290 samples of food items it tested, 8,469, nearly one-fifth, were found adulterated or misbranded.’ Food adulteration is not a new phenomenon in the Valley. In fact doctors say the occurrence has recently seen a phenomenal rise, which has led to a rise in patients with gastric problems in Kashmir.
The FSSAI is a public authority, formed under the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, mandated to ensure that food is safe for consumption. The Food Authority and the State Food Safety Authorities shall monitor and verify that the relevant requirements of law are fulfilled by food business operators at all stages of food business. The authorities shall maintain a system of control and other activities as appropriate to the circumstances, including public communication on food safety and risk, food safety surveillance and other monitoring activities covering all stages of food business. The Food Safety Officers shall enforce and execute within their area the provisions of this Act with respect to which the duty is not imposed expressly or by necessary implication on some other authority. The regulations under this Act shall specify which of the Food Safety Officers are to enforce and execute them, either generally or in relation to cases of a particular description or a particular area, and any such regulations or orders may provide for the giving of assistance and information by any authority concerned in the administration of the regulations or orders, or of any provisions of this Act, to any other authority so concerned, for the purposes of their respective duties under them. The Commissioner of Food Safety and Designated Officer shall exercise the same powers as are conferred on the Food Safety Officer and follow the same procedure specified in this Act. 30. Of FSSAI act 2006.
The State Government shall appoint the Commissioner of Food Safety for the State for efficient implementation of food safety and standards and other requirements laid down under this Act and the rules and regulations made there under. The Commissioner of Food Safety shall perform all or any of the following functions, prohibit in the interest of public health, the manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of any article of food, either in the whole of the State or any area or part thereof for such period, not exceeding one year, as may be specified in the order notified in this behalf in the Official Gazette, carry out survey of the industrial units engaged in the manufacture or processing of food in the State to find out compliance by such units of the standards notified by the Food Authority for various articles of food , conduct or organise training programmes for the personnel of the office of the Commissioner of Food Safety and, on a wider scale, for different segments of food chain for generating awareness on food safety, ensure an efficient and uniform implementation of the standards and other requirements as specified and also ensure a high standard of objectivity, accountability, practicability, transparency and credibility, sanction prosecution for offences punishable with imprisonment under this Act, such other functions as the State Government may, in consultation with the Food Authority, prescribe, The Commissioner of Food Safety may, by Order, delegate, subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be specified in the Order, such of his powers and functions under this Act (except the power to appoint Designated Officer, Food Safety Officer and Food Analyst) as he may deem necessary ..In our state the regulatory framework is as per FSSAI act 2006, and The enactments and regulatory system comprises of Commissioner of Food Safety, J&K State,Deputy Commissioner of Food Safety, Jammu/Kashmir of respective Divisions, Designated Officers of their respective districts,Food Safety Officers at Block Levels.
While implementing the provisions of this act. The Central Government and the State Governments, the Food Authority and other agencies, shall be guided by the following principles namely, endeavour to achieve an appropriate level of protection of human life and health and the protection of consumer’s interests, including fair practices in all kinds of food trade with reference to food safety standards and practices, carry out risk management which shall include taking into account the results of risk assessment and other factors which in the opinion of the Food Authority are relevant to the matter under consideration and where the conditions are relevant, in order to achieve the general objectives of regulations, where in any specific circumstances, on the basis of assessment of available information, the possibility of harmful effects on health is identified but scientific uncertainty persists, provisional risk management measures necessary to ensure appropriate level of health protection may be adopted, The measures adopted shall be reviewed within a reasonable period of time, depending on the nature of the risk to life or health being identified and the type of scientific information needed to clarify the scientific uncertainty and to conduct a more comprehensive risk assessment, in cases where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a food may present a risk for human health, then, depending on the nature, seriousness and extent of that risk, the Food Authority and the Commissioner of Food Safety shall take appropriate steps to inform the general public of the nature of the risk to health, identifying to the fullest extent possible the food or type of food, the risk that it may present, and the measures which are taken or about to be taken to prevent, reduce or eliminate that risk; and where any food which fails to comply with food safety requirements is part of a batch, lot or consignment of food of the same class or description, it shall be presumed until the contrary is proved, that all of the food in that batch, lot or consignment fails to comply with those requirements.It is high time that we all stakeholders pool our resources, expertise to end the menace of food adulteration and provide the healthy food to all.
The author teaches at Department of Food Tech, IUST.