New Delhi, Apr 20: Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that under the new anti-adulteration law, food adulteration is a punishable offence, carrying a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh for manufacturers.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Azad said that the Food Safety and Standards Act passed by the Parliament in 2006 will come into effect within 3 to 4 months.
"In 3-4 months, this (Act) will become law," he said.
Besides incorporating the multiplicity of provisions under various food related laws, the Act regulates food safety standards and uniform licensing in the country.
Azad said that out of the 101 sections in the Act, only 43 have been notified till date, adding that rest would be notified soon.
The Health and Family Welfare Minister said that the delay was mainly because the Health Ministry had to bring several subjects which were not under the ministry to a common range.
Employees under various departments were transferred to the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, established under the Act.
The new Act calls for penalty on manufacturers of adulterated food items and a fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh will be adjudicated by an officer of the rank of Sub-Divisional Magistrate.
The court which earlier decided on the fine will now decide on the jail term.
"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.
The minister said that only 7.21 per cent of samples collected by States during last three years were found to be adulterated.