Food Safety Act: Union Health Sec to appear before SC tomorrow

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New Delhi, Jul 20 (UNI) Union Health Secretary Naresh Dayal will tomorrow appear in person before the Supreme Court to explain why the government is dragging its feet in enforcing Food Safety Act which will make it mandatory for all soft drink companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi to display the ingredients of their products on the bottles.

A bench headed by Justice A K Mathur had directed the Health Secretary to appear in person before the court on July 21 to explain why the Government was reluctant in notifying the Act, which has already been passed by both houses of the Parliament and assented by the President.

Justice Mathur had expressed unhappiness when it was informed that the Government intented to enforce the Act in parts.

The directions for personal appearance of the Health Secretary were issued during the hearing of a PIL filed by the Centre for public interest litigation whose counsel Prashant Bhushan had contended that some chemicals in soft drinks are extremely harmful for health and the consumer has every right to know what he or she is consuming.

Soft drink companies , have however, been opposing the PIL on the grounds that their products were confirming to the international standards in preparing their products.

The Government has not been implementing the Act for over last two years.

The judges asked the Government, '' why is the executive sitting over the Act and not notifying it when the President has given assent to the law ? How can the department not act?'' The apex court had earlier told the Health Ministry that it will pass orders directing the Government to implement the Act by the end of August this year.

Food Safety Act will replace laws like the Milk and Milk Products Order, Fruit Products Order and the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has already been set up to ensure that safety measures are followed by food processing companies.

UNI SC ARB KN1607

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