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Prevention of Food Adulteration Programme

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is responsible for ensuring safe food to the consumers. Keeping this in view, a legislation called "Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954" was enacted. The objective envisaged in this legislation was to ensure pure and wholesome food to the consumers and also to prevent fraud or deception. The Act has been amended thrice in 1964, 1976 and in 1986 with the objective of plugging the loopholes and making the punishments more stringent and empowering Consumers and Voluntary Organisations to play a more effective role in its implementation.

The subject of the Prevention of Food Adulteration is in the concurrent list of the constitution. However, in general, the enforcement of the Act is done by the State/U.T Governments. The Central Government primarily plays an advisory role in its implementation besides carrying out various statutory functions/duties assigned to it under the various provisions of the Act.

The laws regulating the quality of food have been in force in the country since 1899. Until 1954, several States formulated their own food laws. But there was a considerable variance in the rules and specifications of the food, which interfered with inter-provincial trade. The Central Advisory Board appointed by the Government of India in 1937 and the Food Adulteration Committee appointed in 1943, reviewed the subject of Food Adulteration and recommended for Central legislation. The Constitution of India provided the powers to Central Government for making such legislation as the subjects of Food and Drugs Adulteration are included in the concurrent list. The Government of India, therefore, enacted a Central Legislation called the Prevention of Food adulteration Act (PFA) in the year 1954 which came into effect from 15 June, 1955. The Act repealed all laws, existing at that time in States concerning food adulteration.

In India, a three-tier system is in vogue for ensuring food quality and food safety. They are:

  • Government of India;
  • State/UT Governments;
  • Local Bodies.

The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act is a Central legislation. Rules and Standards framed under the Act are uniformly applicable throughout the country. Besides, framing of rules and standards, the following activities are undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

  • Keeping close liaison with State/local bodies for uniform implementation of food laws.
  • Monitoring of activities of the States by collecting periodical reports on working of food laws, getting the reports of food poisoning cases and visiting the States from time to time.
  • Arranging periodical training programme for Senior Officer/Inspector/Analysts.
  • Creating consumer awareness about the programme by holding exhibitions/seminars/training programmes and publishing pamphlet'.
  • Approving labels of Infant Milk Substitute and Infant food, so as to safeguard the health of infants.
  • Coordinating with international bodies like ISO/FAO/WHO and Codex.
  • Carrying out survey-cum-monitoring activities on food contaminants like colours.
  • Giving administrative/financial/technical support to four Central Food Laboratories situated in Kolkata, Ghaziabad, Mysore and Pune and providing technical guidance to the food laboratories set up by the States/Local Bodies.
  • Holding activities connected with National Monitoring Agency vested with powers to decide policy issues on food irradiation.
  • Formulation of Manual on food analysis method.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is designated as the National Codex Contact Point in India to examine and formulate India's views on the agenda for the various meeting of Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint venture of FAO/WHO dealing with International Food Standards and its subsidiary committees. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare constituted a National Codex Committee (NCC) and an Assistant Director General (PFA) has been working as Liaison Officer for NCC. The NCC has further constituted 24 Shadow Committees corresponding to various Codex commodities committees for preparation and finalization of India's stand.

India has been regularly attending the various sessions of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and various Codex Commodity Committees to put forward her views and defend these views.

Harmonisation of PFA with Codex

After signing the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) agreements by India and removal of quantitative restrictions on import of food products into India, the exercise of harmonization of standards for food products, use of food additives, microbiological requirements, harmonization of regulations, in line with international standards prescribed by Codex Alimentarius Commission and International Standards Organisation (ISO) had been initiated.

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Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 09-02-2011