Thursday, September 22, 2011

Punishment for food ad ulterers

Delhi govt's decision to implement laws pertaining to food adulteration strictly is a welcome one. Now, the guilty may get life imprisonment and Rs 10 lakh fine

Shitanshu Shekhar Shukla

Determined to rid the city of food adulteration, the Delhi government has decided to enforce a stringent law providing for maximum punishment of life imprisonment and a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh for those involved in such illegal activities.
Delhi Health Minister A K Walia said Food Safety and Standards Act passed by Parliament in 2006 has strict provisions to regulate food safety standards and the city government will enforce the legislation within next three months.
"After enforcement of the new Act, food adulteration will become almost impossible as it is going to attract heavy fine and punishment including life imprisonment," Walia said.
Health department officials said although the Act was passed by Parliament in the year 2006, the Centre notified the rules for enforcement of the legislation only a few weeks ago.
The Act provides for penalty on manufacturers of adulterated food items including fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh to be adjudicated by an officer of the rank of Sub-Divisional Magistrate. As per the provisions of the law, adulterers may face six months to life imprisonment depending on the nature of offences.
"We are determined to enforce the legislation to curb food adulteration in the city," Walia said adding new legislation will replace the existing Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
Walia said, as per the new Act, manufacturers of adulterated food may face imprisonment up to seven years with fine of Rs 10 lakh. In case of death caused due to adulterated food items, the maximum punishment will be life term and fine will be up to Rs 10 lakh.
If a person dies after consuming adulterated food, then kin of the deceased will get financial compensation of not less than Rs 5 lakh while in case of grievous injury not less than Rs 3 lakh will be paid.
Walia said that under the Act, all traders who deal in food business will have to register themselves with the food department or will have to procure license.
Under the new law, cases related to sub-standard food items as well as misleading advertisement about the food products will not go to the court and only fine upto Rs 10 lakh will be imposed. As per the existing PFA Act, cases related to these offences go to court.
"Hence, the disposal of cases will be fast," said Walia.
Walia said fine up to Rs 2 lakh can be imposed as per provision of the new law for selling "food of not prescribed quality while Rs 5 lakh can be imposed as fine for selling "sub-standard" food items. The Act has provision of imposing a fine of Rs one lakh for "un-hygienic or un-sanitary processing or manufacturing of food".
Giving details of the government's effort to curb food adulteration, Walia said Prevention of Food Adulteration department has been told to continue its raids in various food markets.
He said the PFA department had lifted 264 samples from various areas in Walled City area out of which 40 were found to be adulterated. Walia said result in respect of 43 samples is still awaited.

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