The Tamil Nadu Foodgrains Merchants Association has opposed the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and urged the Centre to incorporate some changes into the Act.

Association president S.P. Jeyapragasam said that referral laboratories for performing food analysis at nominal costs should be established in all States. The Act should also permit a 12-month period to give effect to changes in labels, as and when announced, to enable traders to address logistics.

Penalties have been increased over 100 times in the new Act as compared to the earlier Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, resulting in a maximum of Rs. 10 lakh.

The association wanted the ceilings for penalties to be fixed at Rs. 25,000.

He also called for restricting certain powers of the Food Safety Officer such as the right to take sample from an open container, seize account books and records.

The samples collected should be kept in glass or plastic air tight containers rather than kept packed in wrapper/polythene packets to prevent tampering. The Act prohibits the addition of sodium bi-carbonate in ‘appalams’ (pappad), which is a traditional south Indian food. As this component was not harmful to health, it should be allowed, he said.

The association feared that if the Act was amended, the jobs of lakhs of workers in the food industries sector could be jeopardised.