SC issues Directions to prevent Adulteration

SC issues Directions to prevent Adulteration and sale of adulterated and Synthetic Milk. Supreme Court of India Today has issued important directions to prevent the menace of growing adulteration and sales of adulterated and synthetic milk in different parts of the country.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice TS Takur and Justices R.Banumati and UU Lalit has issued the directions in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Swmai Achyutanand Tirth and Others.

The petitioners allege that the concerned State Governments and Union of India have failed to take effective measures for combating the adulteration of milk with hazardous substance like urea, detergent, refined oil, caustic soda, etc. which adversely affects the consumers’ health and seek appropriate direction .

The petitioners have relied on a report dated 02.01.2011 titled “Executive Summary on National Survey on Milk Adulteration, 2011” released by Foods Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which concluded that on a national level, 68.4 per cent of milk being sold is adulterated and it is alleged that the worst performers in the survey were Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman and Diu, where adulteration in milk was found up to 100%.

In the States of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh 88% of milk samples were found adulterated. According to the petitioners, milk is the only source of nourishment for infants and a major part of the diet for growing children in tender age and if no effective measure is taken to ensure the purity of milk, health of the children will be adversely affected.

 The petitioners pleaded inaction and apathy on the part of the Government to take appropriate measure to rule out sale and circulation of synthetic milk and milk products across the country which according to the petitioners has resulted in violation of fundamental rights of the petitioners and public at large guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioners, therefore, have approached the Court for a writ of mandamus directing Union of India and the concerned State Governments to take immediate effective and serious steps to rule out the sale and circulation of synthetic/adulterated milk and the milk products like ghee, mawa, cheese, etc.

The Parliament has enacted Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Regulations, 2011 which are effective in taking care of the food safety and standards.The consumption of adulterated milk and milk products is hazardous to human health and the state of affairs is alarming .

Considering the seriousness of the matter and in the light of various orders passed by the Court, the Court has disposed the Writ Petition with the following directions and observations:-

i. Union of India and the State Governments shall take appropriate steps to implement Food Safety       and Standards Act, 2006 in a more effective manner.

ii. States shall take appropriate steps to inform owners of dairy, dairy operators and retailers                    working in the State that if chemical adulterants like pesticides, caustic soda and other chemicals      are found in the milk, then stringent action will be taken on the State Dairy Operators or retailers      or all the persons involved in the same.

iii. State Food Safety Authority should also identify high risk areas (where there is greater presence         of petty food manufacturer/business operator etc.) and times (near festivals etc.) when there is           risk of ingesting adulterated milk or milk products due to environmental and other factors and           greater number of food samples should be taken from those areas.

iv. State Food Safety Authorities should also ensure that there is adequate lab testing infrastructure         and ensure that all labs have/obtain NABL accreditation to facilitate precise testing. State                     Government to ensure that State food testing laboratories/district food laboratories are well-               equipped with the technical persons and testing facilities.

v. Special measures should be undertaken by the State Food Safety Authorities (SFSA) and District       Authorities for sampling of milk and milk products, including spot testing through Mobile Food         Testing Vans equipped with primary testing kits for conducting qualitative test of adulteration in        food. 

vi. Since the snap short survey conducted in 2011 revealed adulteration of milk by hazardous                     substances including chemicals, such snap short surveys to be conducted periodically both in the       State as well as at the national level by FSSAI.

vii. For curbing milk adulteration, an appropriate State level Committee headed by the Chief                     Secretary or the Secretary of Dairy Department and District level Committee headed by the                 concerned District Collector shall be constituted as is done in the State of Maharashtra to take             the review of the work done to curb the milk adulteration in the district and in the State by the            authorities.

viii. To prevent adulteration of milk, the concerned State Department shall set up a website thereby           specifying the functioning and responsibilities of food safety authorities and also creating                     awareness about complaint mechanisms. In the website, the contact details of the Joint                        Commissioners including the Food Safety Commissioners shall be made available for registering        the complaints on the said website. All States should also have and maintain toll free telephonic          and online complaint mechanism.

ix. In order to increase consumer awareness about ill effects of milk adulteration as stipulated                  in Section 18(1)(f) the States/Food Authority/Commissioner of Food Safety shall inform the                general public of the nature of risk to health and create awareness of Food Safety and Standards.        They should also educate school children by conducting workshops and teaching them easy                  methods for detection of common adulterants in food, keeping in mind indigenous technological        innovations (such as milk adulteration detection strips etc.) x. Union of India/State Governments     to evolve a complaint mechanism for checking corruption and other unethical practices of the             Food Authorities and their officers.

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