Food Adulteration

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2010]

ILI Law Review

163

LAWS ON FOOD ADULTERATION: A CRITICAL STUDY
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE FOOD SAFETY AND
STANDARDS ACT, 2006.1
I. Introduction
INDIA HAS been called the land of Annapurna. Food and water are not only the elixir of life, but they are worshipped as gods. In spite of this fact, the evil of food adulteration is not only present in the society to a great extent, but its history can be traced back to the times of Kautilya.2

Recently, during Deepawali festivities there was no dearth of news reports on the television and the local newspapers on how the adulteration is being done in the sweets by the businessmen. As it is the only time that the news channels are very active educating and informing the public, that it seems festival is the only time when such malpractice is on. But, the reality is that we hardly consume food on any day, which can be considered pure and unadulterated. The food items and the ingredients that we use to prepare food contain adulterants. During the parliamentary debates in the Lok Sabha, one of the Members of Parliament, Mr. Shailendra Kumar, shared his view on the seriousness of the problem, as follows:3

…there is adulteration in milk. Urea and Oxitocin are mixed in milk which causes a great risk of abortion and impotency. I was just going through the report that adulterated biscuits in the name of glucose and other brands worth 25 crore were seized in Punjab. Likewise, I would like to remind the honourable minister that the adulteration in mustard oil in the year 1988 had resulted in spread of the disease cancer named „dropsy‟….mixing of coal-tar dye in pulses, tea, and coffee lead to cancer…Lead Chromite is mixed in turmeric 1

Act 34 of 2006.
R.P. Kagle, 4(2) The Kautilya Arthashastra 260-270 (1970); see chapter 2, s. 77. Kagle has translated those proses into English as follows: “As to difference in weight or measure or difference in price or quality, for the weigher and measurer who by the trick of the hand brings about (difference to the extent of) one -eight part in( an article)priced at one panna, the fine is two hundred (pannas)... For mixing things of similar kindwith objects such as grains, fats, sugar, salt, perfumes and medicines the fine is twelve pannas.”

3
21 Parliamentary Debates, Lok Sabha 390 (Jul. 26, 2006)
2

164

Laws on Food Adulteration

[Vol. 1 : 1

which results in serious diseases like paralysis, anemia and abortion, etc. Copper salt is mixed in pickle which affects kidney. Rangoli is mixed in salt which causes stomach diseases…Injectioins are being used in vegetables for their early growth…injections to the cows and buffaloes to get more milk and profit…Similarly, the sweets contain a material named Metabil Yelova road mill which carries the risk of cancer.

As „food adulteration‟ is done in so many ways, one must precisely know what the exact definition of the term is. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 19544 defines the terms “adulterant”5 and “adulterated”6 in so many words. In layman‟s language it means debasing of food article with an inferior or deleterious substance. It is a kind of slow poisoning. It is destruction of human life.7 It is the gravest of socio-economic crime. We call it socio-economic crime because it is done with the purpose of attaining profit. It has the tendency to erode national health, character and economy, in equal measure. The adulteration, by affecting the human resource of a nation, has direct impact on national progress and production (GDP) of a country particularly India which is a developing country. This may be the reason why Food Safety and Standards Act, 20068 defines the term “unsafe food” instead of adulterated food.

The serious problem before the nation in the form of a conundrum is that if the evil practice of adulteration can be traced back to antiquity, then so is the legal remedy, that has always been in place. Unfortunately, one remedy was replaced by the other with...
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