Food Adulteration Act, 1954 was introduced to make provision for the prevention of adulteration of food in India. Food Adulteration is the addition or subtraction of any substance to or from food, thus affecting the natural composition and quality of food substance. Adulteration is done knowingly that the food article might be harmful for consumption. An adulterant is any material which is or could be used for the purposes of adulteration.
When is a food article said to be adulterated?
- When the article sold by the vendor is not of the same nature, substance or quality as expected by the purchaser or is misrepresented in terms of nature, substance or quality;
- Presence of any other substance or is so processed as to affect the nature, substance or quality to a great extent;
- Substitution with cheap/inferior products wholly or in part that affects the nature, substance or quality;
- When any constituent of the article is extracted wholly or in the part which affects the nature, substance or quality;
- When the article is kept/ packed under insanitary conditions due to which it becomes injurious to health;
- When the article contains any poisonous substance or something alike, wholly or in part, that is unfit for human consumption like decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance or is insect-infested;
- If the packaging or the container is as such that it renders the contents injurious to health;
- When the amount of colouring matter or quality used is beyond the prescribed limit or does not meet the standards;
- When there is a prohibited preservative or even permitted preservative beyond prescribed limit;
- When the quality, purity or the constituents of the article do not meet the prescribed standard or the limit of variability, which renders it injurious to health;
- When the quality, purity, or the constituents of the article do not meet the prescribed standard or the limit of variability, but it does not render it injurious to health.
When the quality or purity of the article is affected, solely due to natural causes and beyond the control of the human agency, then, such article shall not be considered to be adulterated.
Authorities under the Food Adulteration Act, 1954
Although it is a Central Act, its implementation is mainly carried out by the State Governments and local bodies in their respective areas.
Central Committee for Food Standards- It is formed as per Section 3 of the Act. Central Committee for Food Standards is to be formed by the Central government for the purpose of advising the State governments and itself on the matters relating to the administration of this Act and to carry out the other functions assigned to it under the act. The Committee shall be constituted by a Director, Chairman, a Secretary, two experts nominated by the Central government, representatives of different departments including a state representative nominated by the government of each State and two representatives nominated by the Central government to represent the Union territories, five consumer interest representative and one representative from the medical profession among others representatives appointed by the Central government.
The functions of the Committee may be exercised irrespective of the creation of different vacancies. The Committee can appoint as many sub-committees as it requires and may appoint more persons who are not members of the main Committee to exercise powers and perform such duties as may be delegated to them. The Committee may make by-laws for the purpose of regulating its own procedure and the transaction of its business after due approval from the Central government.
Central Food Laboratory- It is formed as per Section 4 of the Act. The Central Government shall establish as many Central Food Laboratories as the requirement after notification in the Official Gazette to carry out the functions assigned to the Central Food Laboratory by this Act. The Central Government can also by notification in the Official Gazette, specify any laboratory or institute as a Central Food Laboratory to carry out the required functions.
The Central government, after consulting with the Central Committee for Food Standards, makes rules as to the procedure for the submission of samples of articles of food to the Laboratory for examination, the forms of the reports thereon and the fees payable for such reports, and such other rules necessary for the laboratory to work efficiently.
Food (Health) Authority- Defined in Section 2 of the Act, it is any officer empowered by the Central or State government after notification in the Official Gazette and means the Director of Medical and Health Services who is in charge of Health administration in a State. The officer is expected to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the Food (Health) Authority under this Act with respect to such local area as specified.
Local (Health) Authority– Defined in Section 2 of the Act, it is made for a local area and is appointed by the Central Government or the State Government after notification in the Official Gazette to be in charge of Health administration in the specified area.
Food Inspector– Section 9 of the Act provides for ‘food inspectors.’ It says that the Central Government or the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint required food inspectors who have the minimum prescribed qualifications, for the local areas which are assigned to them. But an individual who has any sort of financial interest in the manufacture, import or sale of any article of food cannot be appointed as a food inspector under this section. The person appointed shall be subordinate to the Central or the State government that makes the appointment and shall be considered to be a public servant.
The presence of an Act that regulates and supervises food safety is essential for protecting and promoting public health. Buyer and recognized consumer associations can also get food samples analyzed as per the rules contained in the Food Adulteration Act, 1954. Food is one of the basic necessities required for sustenance of life and therefore, unadulterated, and fresh food is most essential for the health of the people.