The new anti-adulteration law makes food adulteration an offence punishable with life imprisonment and manufacturers can be fined up to Rs 10 lakh, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
Speaking in Rajya Sabha he said the Food Safety and Standards Act passed by the Parliament in 2006 will come into force in next 3-4 months.
The Act integrates multiplicity of provisions under various food related laws. It will among other things regulate food safety standards and uniform licensing in the country.
Of the 101 sections in the Act, so far 43 have been notified and the rest will be notified shortly, he said.
The delay, he said, was mainly because several subjects were not under the Health Ministry and had to be brought under a common ambit.
Employees under various departments had to be transferred to the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India that has been established under the Act.
“In 3-4 months, this (Act) will become law,” he said.
The new Act provides for penalty on manufacturers of adulterated food items including fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh to be adjudicated by an officer of the rank of Sub-Divisional Magistrate. Earlier, the fine was to be decided by the court, which will now decide on imprisonment.
Adulterers face 6-month to life imprisonment, he said.
“The new Act aims to ensure safe, hygienic and wholesome food for the citizens of the country. It also bestows responsibility on the food manufacturers and traders to manufacture and supply safe, hygienic and wholesome food,” he said.
It also provides provisions regarding food recall procedures and improvement notices. Adjudication processes have also been introduced for speedy disposal of cases under the new Act, he added.
“I agree that the speed at which State governments should have been taking lead (in controlling adulteration) is not happening,” he said, adding only 7.21 per cent of samples collected by States during last three years have been found adulterated.