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FSSAI proposes life imprisonment for food adulteration

FSSAI proposes life imprisonment for food adulteration

The new law is in line with the directions of the Supreme Court on the issue. It has also incorporated elements from the Singapore food safety law as the city state is known to have successfully enforced measures to check food adulteration.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has proposed a punishment of up to a life term in prison for those adulterating food products as part of a more stringent law that is being worked out to curb this pernicious practice. The FSSAI has issued the draft amendments to the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, which was notified in 2011.

The regulator has proposed as many as 100 amendments to the Act and has ought comments from the public by July 2. FSSAI has proposed to include a new section to crack down on food adulteration.

Any person who "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 proposed amendment states.

The new law is in line with the directions of the Supreme Court on the issue. It has also incorporated elements from the Singapore food safety law as the city state is known to have successfully enforced measures to check food adulteration.

The new Consumer Protection Bill, which is pending in Parliament, also proposes a 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 or assaulting a food safety officer in order to enforce the law at the ground level.

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 for such acts of intimidation or assault. At present, the imprisonment is up to three months and the 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