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FSSAI proposes Life Term Imprisonment, 10 Lakh rupees fine for Culprits

Jun 27, 2018

FSSAI proposes Life Term Imprisonment, 10 Lakh rupees fine for Culprits
FSSAI proposes Life Term Imprisonment, 10 Lakh rupees fine for Culprits | Credit: Indiatimes

Stringent punishment of fine 10 lakh rupees and up to life imprisonment to culprits who adulterate food, has been proposed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Also, the regulator has suggested to create a ‘Food Safety and Nutrition Fund’ to support outreach and promotional activities among consumers and businesses.

The food regulator has proposed total 100 additions to the existing law to the FSS Act and has sought inputs from public and state governments by July 2. The regulatory body is optimistic that it would receive support and backing from the people and politicians across the aisle to their bold initiative, as a measure in the interest of public.

The proposals are part of major changes recommended by FSSAI to add to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The proposal draft seen by the media recommends a new section in the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSS Act) – Section 59, that would lead to a seven-year punishment, which can be extended in some cases to life imprisonment, besides a fine of 10 lakh rupees if businesses or individuals intentionally add adulterants to the food products.

The penalty – punishment will apply irrespective of the adulteration causing injury to consumers. Officials said the provisions, which have long been in the works of review, have been proposed in the wake of spike in instances of food adulteration, which have a major impact in people’s health, in some cases leading to multiple deaths.

FSSAI, the regulator, has sought feedback from several state governments across the country on their proposal. It has also suggested a fund to undertake special initiatives and programmes on food safety and nutrition.

FSSAI in a statement said: “Any person…adds an adulterant to food so as to render it causing injury for human consumption with an inherent potential to cause death or is likely to render grievous hurt, irrespective of the fact whether it causes injury or not, shall be punishable for a term which shall be not less than seven-years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine which shall not be any less than 10 lakh rupees.”

Giving rationale behind the draft proposal amendments, FSSAI – the regulator, said this has been proposed to provide stringent punishment in cases where an adulterant is mixed to food with an intent to cause injury and be unsafe for human consumption.

“It’s also in the light of the directions of the Supreme Court,” FSSAI added.

The new Consumer Protection Bill pending in Parliament also proposes similar quantum of stringent punishment for adulteration.

Among several other amendments, the regulator has proposed setting of state food safety authorities, so that the state government safety authorities can enforce in letter and spirit of this law.

It also proposed increase in punishment for impersonating, obstructing, threatening and intimidating and assaulting a food safety officer.

FSSAI, the food safety regulatory body has recommended imprisonment of not less than 6 to 24 months, besides penalty of up to 5 lakh rupees. Presently, the imprisonment is up to three months and a fine up to 1 lakh rupees.

The regulatory body has further proposed that a culprit convicted under this law will be bound to pay fees and other expenses incidental to the analysis of any food contact or food article in respect of which the conviction is obtained and other reasonable expenses incurred by the prosecution.

Also, this has been proposed in line with Singapore’s Sale of Food Act provision. The other additions include regulation of exported food products under the FSS Act. Presently, it covers only sale of domestic market and imported food item sales.