Food Regulationa

Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006: An Overview


Saurabh Sharma

THE Food Safety and Standards Act,2006 was passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and received assent of the President on 23rd August, 2006. The Act is a comprehensive and modern piece of legislation and a step towards consolidation  of different food laws. It aims at elimination of multi-level and multi-departmental control. The Act repeals the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,1954 and following Orders:

  • Fruits Products Order,1955
  • Meat Food Products Order,1947
  • Edible Oils Packaging(Regulation)Order,1998
  • Solvent Extracted Oil, De-oiled meal and Edible Flour Order,1967
  • Milk and Milk Products Order,1992
  • Any other Order issued under the Essential Commodities Act,1955(10 of 1955) relating to food.

      • The Act establishes the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (hereinafter called the Food Authority). Food Authority shall consist of a Chairperson and twenty two members out of which one- third shall be women.Act provides for appointment of a Chief Executive Officer who shall be legal representative of the Food Authority and responsible for the day to day administration of the Authority.
      • The Act requires Food Authority to prepare an annual report of its activities and forward the same to the Central Government and the State Governments. Act empowers the Central Government to issue directions to the Food Authority on the matters of policy and in obtaining reports and returns.
      • n  The Food Authority and State Food Authority (appointed by State Government) shall be responsible for the enforcement of the act. Act pro vides for appointment of Commissioner of Food Safety, Designated Officers, Food Safety Officers and Food Analysts for implementation of the act.
      • Act prescribes graded penalties depending on the gravity of offence and accordingly civil penalties for minor offences and punishment for serious violations.
      • n  Act enables establishment of Food Safety Appellate Tribunal consisting of one person as Presiding Officer to be appointed by Central or State Government as the case may be. An appeal against the decision or order of the Food Safety Appellate Tribunal may be filed before High Court with in sixty days from the date of communication of the decision or order of the tribunal.
      • Act empowers the Central Government to give directions to the State Government for carrying out provisions of the Act and to remove any difficulty that may arise in implementation of the act.

Objective of the Act

The objective of the new act is to consolidate the laws relating to food and to curb Food Adulteration by prescribing higher penalties for violation of food laws. It will also establish Food Safety Management System for ensuring availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India will also be established for enforcing the food safety standards.

Conclusion

The Act aims at meeting the dynamic requirements of Indian Food Industry/Trade and International Trade. The reform process of country’s Food Safety Administration comes in the wake of India’s potential to garner a higher share in increasing World Food Trade. The advent of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has led to increasing recognition and adoption of Food Safety measures. The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 ushers in new concepts such as Food Safety, Food Safety Management Systems and Food Safety Audit. The Act also introduces concepts like Risk Analysis, Risk Assessment and Risk Management.The Act is a comprehensive and modern piece of legislation which intends to ensure movement from multi-level and multi-departmental control to integrated line of command. The objects of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 go far beyond the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA), 1954. The Act establishes Food Safety and Standards Authority (an independent authority with statutory power) which replaces Central Committee of Food Standards which is only an advisory body under the PFA Act,1954. Further,the Act unlike the PFA Act,1954 provides for Licencing and Regulation of Food Business Operators. The Act apart from making stringent provisions (e.g. prescribing higher penalties etc.) to curb Food Adulteration also ushers in new concepts such as putting in place Food Safety Management Systems to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

However, Small and Medium scale industries which do not have technical expertise to track the regulatory changes may find it difficult to identify the procedural and compliance changes brought in by the Act. Thus, there is need for conducting awareness/training programmes for Industry. Further, the Act suggests much stiffer monetary penalties for violations which may be a point of concern for Indian Food Players.

Nevertheless, the Act apart from being a step towards consolidation of Food Laws aims at laying down scientific standards for food articles, to regulate manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

 

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