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Prevention of Food Adulteration Programme in detail

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2.Prevention of Food Adulteration Programme in detail.

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 The Act repealed all laws, existing at that time in States concerning food adulteration.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 atending 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.

Prevention of Food Adulteration Programme

Role of State/UT Governments

Enforcement of the food laws primarily rests with the State/UTs. There are 28 States and 7 Union Territories in the country. The implementation of the Act in most of the States is under the administrative control of the Directorate of Health Services, whereas, in a few States, the implementation is being combined with Drugs Administration under the Joint Food and Drug Administration. The implementation has been left to the administrative setup of the States, but it has been stressed on the States that whatever the structure be, there should be a whole-time Senior Officer duly qualified and experienced in Food Science, Food Technology, Food Analysis with other supporting officers and inspectors. State Governments are also empowered to make rules laying down details of licensing conditions of food, the establishments of food industries and prescribing licence fees.

The provisions under PFA Rules have been amended nearly 360 times and standards of around 250 articles of food which are of mass consumption have been prescribed. While making amendments, standards formulated by Codex/technological development in the food industry sector/dietary habits/nutritional status of our population, social/cultural practices are taken into consideration.

By and large, in most of the States, implementation in corporation/municipal area rests with the Local Bodies which employ their own food inspectors. Licensing of food industries/establishments is also left to them.

There are 72 food laboratories in the country at District/Regional or State level in addition to four Central Food Laboratories set-up by the Central Government. Almost every State has got one or more laboratory depending upon its need. About 12 of these laboratories are under the administrative control of the local bodies whereas the remaining ones are under the administrative control of the State Government.

Following constraints have been noticed in the programme:

  • Shortage of Food Inspectors with the States/Local Bodies,

  • Deficiency in the testing laboratories on the following counts:

  • Inadequate trained manpower,

  • Inadequate testing facilities,

  • Non-availability of sophisticated equipment,

  • Inadequate budgetary provision,

  • Non-availability of reference standard material,

  • Non-availability of programme officer for PFA with the State/Local Bodies at State and District levels,

  • Non-availability of separate legal cell for trial of PFA cases with the State/Local Bodies,

  • Non-availability of regular refresher training programme for all the functionaries.

Efforts of Central Government for Solving the Constraints

  • Refresher training programmes are being arranged for all the functionaries namely: (a) Food Inspectors, (b) Local (Health) Authorities, (c) Food (Health) Authorities, (d) Public Analyst and Chemist. Training for Analysts and Chemists are being organized in their own laboratories by trainer deputed by the Central Government. These trainers stay in one lab for six working days and first of all they setup the laboratory as per Good Laboratory Practices and thereafter, the specific training is organized.

  • Sophisticated equipments are being supplied to State Food Testing Laboratories so that at least one laboratory in each State is appropriately strengthened. Efforts are being made to ensure that warranty of the equipment so supplied are for minimum 3 years along with consumables and proper trainings is provided to the analysts/chemists by the supplier for handling and running the equipment.

  • Efforts are also being made to ensure that each State is linked electronically with its District Headquarters. The expenditure for this is proposed to be provided from the World Bank Assisted Capacity Building Project for food and drugs being implemented by the Central Government. This will facilitate smooth sharing of information and networking.

  • Efforts are being made to provide at least one analyst from the Central Budget through the World Bank Assisted Project in each Food Testing Lab for a period of 5 years.

  • Standard reference material for pesticides, listed under Rule 65 of PFA Rules, all the metals listed under Rule 57 of the PFA Rules and aflatoxin are being supplied to one lab in each State.

  • Books on methods of analysis like AOAC, Pearson, Food Chemical Codex, have already been supplied to a majority of the laboratories.

  • Training programme for consumers, traders, vendors and street food hawkers have been organized and will be organized in future as a consumer education programme on food safety.

  • Sensitisation training programmes have been organized for Port (Health) Officers/Customs Officers/Customs House Clearing Agents and importers on various provisions of PFA Act/Rules and other provisions namely packaged Commodity Order and Customs Act, so that these officers may appropriately handle the imported food product.

The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006: With the coming into effect of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSSA) enacted by Parliament in August 2006, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 stands repealed from the date on which Food Safety and Standards Act comes into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Gazette.

Notwithstanding the repeal of the enactment and Orders specified in the Second Schedule, the standards, safety requirements and other provisions of the Act and the rules and regulations made there under and Orders listed in that Schedule shall continue to be in force and operate till new standards are specified under this Act or rules and regulations made there under.

Provided that anything done or any action taken under the enactment and Orders under repeal shall be deemed to have been done or taken under the corresponding provisions of this Act and shall continue in force accordingly unless and until superseded by anything done or by any action taken under this Act.

World Bank Assisted-Capacity Building Project on Food Safety

As trade in food commodities expands globally, food safety can no longer be considered a mere domestic issue. The agreements under the WTO require the development of modern food control and safety programs by national Governments. The issue does not relate only to end product parameters but also to process control.

In order to strengthen the food safety infrastructure in the country, a 5 year World Bank Aided Capacity Building Project for Food Safety and Quality Control of Drugs has been launched by the Central Government.

The Project Objectives/Components are as below:

  • To enhance the capacities of laboratories at the State and Central levels through infrastructure strengthening and training of personnel to upgrade their existing skills. It is separately proposed that only those labs be allowed to do statutory testing which are accredited to NABL (National Accrediation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories).

  • To introduce GMP (Good Manufcturing Practice) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) in the medium and small-scale food processing operations and upgrade facilities in the laboratories including testing for microbiological contamination.

  • To create greater awareness of food safety and hygiene in the small, cottage and unorganised sectors including the street food sector through training,

  • To develop a system of continuous surveys of households to get client perceptions which will provide substantive inputs for policy development and program improvements.

  • Setting up of Management Information System and electronic linkages between Central and State Offices and Central and State Labs in the area of food to ensure better monitoring and data collection.

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