Food Safety News – India updates – Jan 7

Tough punishment awaits food adulterators, Law Commission proposes life imprisonment for offenders

 
Govt plans to increase jail term for offenders from 6 months to life imprisonment
An unprecedented and exemplary punishment may be slapped on food adulterators. According to sources, the Law Commission of India has proposed increasing punishment of those adulterating food substances from the existing six months to life imprisonment.
The commission has prepared a detailed report on amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The panel has also decided to increase the fines for such offenders from the existing Rs 1,000 to Rs 10 lakh.
The commission, which has proposed amendments to Section 272 (adulteration of food and drinks) and 273 (sale of noxious food or drinks) of the IPC, is likely to submit its report to the government in two weeks.
The details of the report were finalised by the commission on Thursday at a high-level meeting, sources told DNA. The government is also mulling over constituting special courts for speedy disposal of food adulteration cases, sources added.
While making the proposal for harsher punishment, the commission has laid emphasis on the amendments to food adulteration laws by states like Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. The three states have already made food adulteration punishable with life imprisonment. In its report, the commission is learnt to have stated that the Centre needs to follow the footsteps of these states and make life term the maximum punishment for adulterators throughout the country.
Apart from increasing the jail term and fines, the panel has also proposed compensation for victims of food adulteration. Under the proposed amendments, food adulteration has been categorised into four, with different punishments for different categories.
While the minimum punishment is six months if no injury is caused, the maximum is life imprisonment, if adulterated food causes the death of a person. The convict will also be liable to pay a fine of Rs 10 lakh in case of death due to adulteration. If adulterated substance causes non-grievous injury, the adulterators would have to serve a 1-year jail term and cough up a fine of Rs 3 lakh. For grievous injury due to adulterated food, offenders will get up to six years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.
Last year, the government had asked the Law Commission to examine the laws on food adulteration after the Supreme Court passed an order favouring stringent punishment. In August 2016, the apex court had said that it was high time that the Centre amends the IPC to make the punishment deterrent. Commenting on the development, a senior Law Commission official said: “The IPC came into being in 1860 when India did not have any food industry but as India got a flourishing food industry, incidents of food adulteration also increased. The laws on food adulteration became outdated with time, and therefore, amendments are required.”
According to a 2011 report of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), over 68 per cent milk sold in the country is adulterated. The report, also considered by the SC, stated the situation was worst in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman and Diu, where milk adulteration was found up to 100 per cent.

FSSAI for hygienic street food in capital

 
Delhi street vendors to be seen wearing apron, gloves, cap, T shirt as the capital eyes for a hygenic way of serving street food
Don’t be surprised if you find a golgappe wala wearing an apron, gloves, cap and T-shirt while serving the delicious snack to you. On par with international standards, street food vendors in Delhi will now be following proper health and hygiene standards before serving you any food item.
This unique initiative is part of a programme followed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) with Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. Under the programme, around 23,000 street food vendors have been trained by the National Street Food Vendors Association of India (NASVI). On Saturday, around 6,000 of them will be awarded the certificate and a kit after completing their training.
The kits, containing two aprons, one T-shirt, one cap, 50 disposable plastic gloves and a hand sanitiser will be given to promote hygienic practices. The first phase will see vendors from Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Malviya Nagar and Sarai Kale Khan.
However, Sangeeta Singh, Head, street food program, NASVI, claimed that the lack of Aadhaar cards had ensured vendors were not able to get certificates earlier.
“Many of them have not filled the information correctly due to which the certificates have not come yet. Some of them have not linked the Aadhaar card with the bank account. The department has now finally decided to give certificates to these 6,000 food vendors in the first phase.”
In March last year, the FSSAI had launched ‘Clean Street Food’ project with an aim to raise the safety standards of foods sold on streets across the national capital by training 20,000 roadside vendors on aspects of health and hygiene. FSSAI partnered with the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship to train street food vendors.
The vendors will also be provided with a health chart which will have 10 indicators. These indicators include washing hands before serving, using head cap, wearing gloves, using clean water, etc. Every food vendor will have this chart displayed near his/her cart.
But it’s not just the vendors. As the organisers of the initiative point out, the consumers too have a role to play to ensure better health and sanitary conditions. “The customers must always remind the food vendor to follow the 10 health indicators before serving the food. We will also keep a close watch on all the vendors to ensure that all the rules are being followed,” added Singh.
According to experts, the practice will help in eliminating diseases like food infection, gastroenteritis and diarrhoea.
“Most of the time, we advise people not to eat street food as the vendors don’t follow proper hygiene standards. The water used in making these items is extremely unhealthy and leads to many diseases like diarrhoea and gastroenteritis,” said Dr SP Byotra, Senior Consultant, Department of Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram hospital.
Sources say that apart from the 6,000 already certified vendors, the remaining vendors will be certified in the next few months. According to the sources, once all the details of the vendors are placed properly, the certification process will speed up.

 

FSSAI asks states to keep check on food wrapped in newspapers, silver warq

 
 
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked state enforcement authorities to ensure strict vigilance on circulation of foods wrapped in newspapers and manufacturing units of of silver warq that are not complying with its standards.

In a bid to ensure that the food served is safe and adheres to the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006, the state enforcement authorities are inspecting street food stalls to prevent the use of newspapers to wrap the items sold by them.

Simultaneously, the regulator has initiated regular inspections of the sweet marts to ensure that the silver warq (an edible material used by mithaiwallahs to decorate the sweets) complies with the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

The Madhya Pradesh Food and Drug Administration (MPFDA) has identified areas and allocated teams of food safety officers, especially at the weekends, when the markets are packed.

Devendra Kumar Verma, a food safety officer from the central state, said, “We had launched campaigns earlier with regard to silver warq to educate food business operators (FBOs) who are involved in the manufacturing of the same.”

“These campaigns aimed at making these FBOs aware of the new technology of manufacturing of silver warq. All states have been asked to ensure that the silver warq is manufactured in compliance with the regulations,” he asked.

“The regulator had asked state enforcement authorities to identify FBOs and businesses which are not complying with the regulation across each state,” said a source from FSSAI.

“Further, on FSSAI’s request, the states identified the areas and are now ready with their teams to inspect such defaulters. This move is in line with the regulator’s 10@10 initiative,” he added.

The source also stated that such enforcement was carried out only after implementing several campaigns to spread awareness among FBOs through FSSAI offices and even associations related to the food industry, which were promoting safe food with the regulator.

“Several small manufacturers who are involved in the business are manufacturing warq the traditional way. The warq manufactured through traditional methods does not comply with FSSAI regulations,” said Verma.

Meanwhile, to keep a check on the use of newspapers to wrap foods, street vendors will be inspected and even sweet marts and halwais selling snacks will be checked for hygiene and use of newspapers

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