Stuti Narula Markan & Sakshi are Research Scholars at Jayoti Vidyapeeth Women's University
The modern food regulation narrates the story of an evil that had entered the sphere of mankind on Earth as an uncalled guest in the dark days of pre-history. Neither the place of birth nor the details of people who had implanted the seed of evil in the fertile land of human dispositions are available. Although food is the gift of nature, throughout history, on a worldwide basis, it was oscillating between acute scarcity and bare sufficiency. Food is a basic human need for survival. Getting pure food is the right of every human being. Pure food gives us health, happiness, efficiency and longevity. Pure food is what it is represented to be; it should be wholesome and do all the good it should do and be free from anything that does any harm or might impair its goodness.
Food adulteration in India under the law includes both willful adulterations of food and “substandard” foods which do not conform to the prescribed food standards but are not done intentionally. Adulteration means the reduction in quality of the food substances either by the addition of foreign substances or by removing any. The intensity of health depends on the gravity and quality of food consumed by the individual. Any qualitative changes in food have wider repercussions on the health of the consumer which may, in turn, affect the stability and prosperity of the nation because the health of the nation depends on the health of the public.
Keywords: health, food, adulteration, human rights, purity, survival.
The modern food regulation narrates the story of an evil that had entered the sphere of mankind on Earth as an uncalled guest in the dark days of pre-history. Neither the place of birth nor the details of people who had implanted the seed of evil in the fertile land of human dispositions are available. Moreover, peripheral observation about the embryonic development of evil is conspicuous in many scriptural texts. In order to know what it is we must know what it had been in the past and what it tends to become.
Man is part of nature. When nature placed mankind on earth, it had conferred upon him an invariable right of qualitative food as a human moral. To primitive men, it was the gift of God. Food is the material that enables man to procreate the energy and heat for one's metabolic activities and act as a body-building material for one's maintenance and reproduction1. It is more than a physical feast. Its quality fundamentally affects the health of the individual and hence it should be free from impurities. Although food is the gift of nature, throughout history, on a worldwide basis, it was oscillating between acute scarcity and bare sufficiency. If in the present day, the problem of food is due to a population explosion, to the ancient, it was due to famines arising out of natural disasters and crop failure. Slowly, this had opened the doors for trade in foodstuffs. The dark-looking evil, stated at the outset, has entered into the sphere of human morals, by exploiting the scarcity of foodstuffs in the form of a Biblical Serpent. No person dealing in foodstuff was having any solutions or precautionary measures at their hands to meet the disproportionate demand for food articles. Instead, the unscrupulous traders who had assumed the role of meeting the exorbitant demand for foodstuffs, with very limited resources, had introduced the elements of deception and fraud into the vicinity of trade. This deception and fraud paved the way for the evil of Food Adulteration.
Food is the basic human need for survival. For centuries food has been recognized as an important need for humans in health and diseases. It is one of the basic requirements of man as also of all living beings. Every activity of man is aimed at the procurement of food and it is only after having met this requirement that he thinks of other less important requirements. Food serves as a source of nutrition, and supply energy to the body via the metabolism of carbohydrate, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Thus, food regulates our body processes, protects us from diseases, and satisfies our lunges which gives us a sense of psychological satisfaction. In the III Chapter of Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta, there is a line “Anant Bhawati Bhootanee” which means “the human being is made from food”.
Therefore getting pure food is the right of every human being. Pure food gives us health, happiness, efficiency, and longevity. Pure food is what it is represented to be; it should be wholesome and do all the good it should do and be free from anything that does any harm or might impair its goodness. The nature, quantity, and quality of the food play a vital role in the maintenance of the health of individuals.2
Preparation and processing of food products may modify their nutritional value and the use of food additives may introduce direct or indirect toxicity, but the real hazards to health are caused by food adulteration. In order to curb the menace of food adulteration, the Government of India introduced the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 with Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955. The object of this food legislation is to prevent adulteration and misbranding of foods as defined therein and punish responsible one because it is crime against humanity. The social evil of fraudulently selling adulterated foodstuffs not only affects the health of the citizens but tends to demoralize the whole nation and grievously obstructs its moral & economic progress. The provisions of the act are directed for the purpose of securing the purity of food and informing purchasers of what they are buying and they must be construed to affect such purpose.3
The Indian Legislature has defined 'food' as Food means any article used as food or drink for human consumption other than drugs and water and includes:
any article which ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food,
any flavoring matter or condiments, and
any other article which the Central Government may have regard to its use, nature, substance or quality, declare by notification in the Official Gazette, as food for the purpose of this Act.”4
Food includes a drink, chewing gum and other products of like nature and use, and articles and substances used as ingredients in the preparation of food or drink or of such products, but does not include –
water, live animals, or birds;
fodder or feeding stuffs for animals, birds or fish; or
article or substance used only as drugs.
Earlier, we found that water is not included in the definition of 'food'. But this general exemption did not prevent the Court from declaring ice candy as an article of food even though it is only a frozen state of water.5
Adulteration was defined as the fraudulent addition of any substance to another, for the sake of increasing sales and hence profit. The oxford dictionary defines the term adulteration as, “making some substance impure by adding any impurities or removing a vital component”.
Thus, Adulteration means the reduction in quality of the food substances either by addition of foreign substances or by removing any. Any substance that is added to a food item to reduce its quality in order to increase its quantity is called an adulterant.
Any food article shall be deemed to be adulterated,
If the article that’s sold by a vendor isn’t of the character, substance or quality demanded by the buyer or which it purports to be.
If the article consumed, contains any substance affecting its quality or if it’s so processed that injuriously affects its nature, substance, or quality.
If any inferior or cheaper substance has been substituted wholly or partly for or with the article, or any constituent of the article has been wholly or partly abstracted from it, so that it affects the quality of an article or if it’s so processed as to injuriously affect its nature, substance or quality.
If the article had been prepared, packed, or kept under insanitary conditions whereby it has or it may become contaminated or injurious to human health.
If the article consists of wholly or partially any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed, or diseased animal or vegetable substance or being insect-infected, or is otherwise unfit for the human consumption.
If the article is obtained from any diseased animal or vegetable.
If the article contains any poisonous or another harmful ingredient that is or may be injurious to the human health.
If the container or packaging of the article is composed or prepared of any poisonous or deleterious substance that is injurious to human health.
If the article contains any prohibited coloring matter or preservatives, or any permitted coloring matter or preservatives that are way over the prescribed limits.
If the quality or purity of the article falls below the prescribed standard, or its constituents are present in proportions of a lower standard, or its constituents are present in proportions aside from those prescribed limits, whether or not rendering it injurious to human health.
This has impelled the modern States to have a second thought on the evil of adulteration. They realized that the manifestation of human ingenuity cannot be predicted and the traditional approach toward adulteration needs radical change. Hence separate statutes governing the adulteration of foodstuffs were evolved and were given the color of penal statutes. The major step in India towards the end was the emergence of the Indian Penal Code in 1860 followed by a number of Princely State Legislation's6. But none of these provisions were able to make any notable improvements in curbing evil. Along with this, the need for a uniform pattern in combating the evil has prompted the Indian Parliament to enact the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act in 1954 (hereinafter the PFA, Act). In P.K. Tejani v. M.R.Dange7, the apex Court has highlighted the objectives of the Act. The Act has introduced many novel features into the streams of Indian criminal jurisprudence, Formidable amongst them is the introduction of a minimum sentence with the negation of any inquiry into the mental state of the offender. Generally, a person is not liable for his conduct unless the prescribed state of mind is also followed.
Food adulteration in India under the law includes both willful adulterations of food and “substandard” foods which do not conform to the prescribed food standards but are not done intentionally. Taking an overall view of all types of food adulteration, three major underlying causes could be identified8.
Inadequate availability of food to meet the demands of the consumer prompts the unscrupulous food traders to use any means to stretch the supply to earn more money.
The more important reason is the basic dishonesty of the food traders and an urge to make quick and easy money. In fact, this urge to make money in an unscrupulous manner is possibly the basic reason for the majority of crimes committed in the modern-day, and quick money is not only restricted to the food traders who commit the crime of food adulteration but can also apply to equal force to the law enforcer who might make an alliance with the food trader with most disastrous results.
There are significant numbers of cases of food adulteration committed by small traders due to their ignorance about the standards they are expected to maintain. It is true that all food standards after they are developed are circulated by government notification for the knowledge of all trades; but it is equally true that there is an abysmal gap between the traders and the law enforcers, especially when they are small and medium traders e.g. the street corner food sellers.
All considerations for the prevention of food adulteration should, therefore, focus on these three major underlying causes and it is obvious to anyone that prevention is undoubtedly the most difficult task.
Legal enforcement is only one measure for the prevention of food adulteration and it will not have any appreciable impact unless and until there is an adequate supply of food at a reasonable price that the average consumer can afford, awareness of the small traders about the food standards which they are expected to maintain, awareness of the common consumer regarding the dangers of adulterations and how to take advantage of the legal machinery to force the traders to get the proper food and lastly, a sense of honesty and humanity among the food traders, big or small, in the maintenance of the safety and quality of food.
Despite the stringent provisions in the Act and the Rules against food adulteration and the quality control machinery with vast powers and the heavy punishment for the offenders, the fact remains that everyone is getting adulterated and misbranded food articles to the peril of his health. This is due to certain specific reasons:
One of the primary reasons for the non-implementation of the provisions of the Act is political interference. A Food Inspector hardly touches any manufacturer, distributor, or big vendors due to political interference only small vendors are prosecuted.
The second reason is larger areas with fewer means of mobility. One Food Inspector has to look after more than one lakh population. Most of the population is spread over a number of towns and villages. He is not provided with any vehicle and thus is not able to cover all the towns and villages in his jurisdiction. To overcome this problem Food Inspector should be increased. Moreover, Food Inspectors should be provided vehicles. Also, their area of jurisdiction should also be made shorter.
Also, the Food Inspector is generally prevented by the Shopkeepers to take samples. They put physical resistance and threaten the Food Inspectors with physical injury. It will be appropriate if a special police squad of one police Inspector and some constables is constituted to help the Food Inspector to perform his duty effectively and safety
The word ‘health’ is derived from the old English word ‘hoeth’ which means a condition of being safe and sound.9 Good health, longevity, and happiness were always the aspirations and dreams of mankind. People know that a body without health is equivalent to soulless life. The preceding Chapter shows that protection of the public health was one of the principal concerns of the ancient Codes.
For instance, the edicts promulgated by Moses in 2000 B.C. contained many provisions protecting the health of the people.10 Health enables the people to enjoy the fruits of their labor keeping them physically and mentally alert to lead a successful life. Therefore it was a concern for all from the past to the present.
The intensity of health depends on the gravity and quality of food consumed by the individual. Any qualitative changes in food have wider repercussions on the health of the consumer which may, in turn, affect the stability and prosperity of the nation because the health of the nation depends on the health of the public. Everyone knows that a weak and infirm body is a burden rather than an asset. Of course, apart from food, diseases, infirmities, and sanitation also affect the health of the people. But it does not mean that absence of disease indicates robust health. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.11
The prosperity of a nation is generally measured in terms of its wealth. This wealth is inextricably mixed with the health of the public. An uninterrupted flow of adulterated articles into the market will flood the market with impure, polluted, and deleterious food articles. Instead of acting as nourishing and body-building material it will abase health and spread diseases. Disease lowers production which entails lower salaries, deficient diet, inadequate housing and education, and disproportionate high investment in curative medicines.
To sum up, the following are the reflections of the study out of which suggestions are drawn to improve the efficacy of law in combating the evil of adulteration.
Food is the basic need for life, without food is no life.
Food supplies the proper amount of nutrients required for the biochemical process in our body.
Food adulteration is an inhuman act by vendors for the sake of profit, which is a big threat to human society.
The adulteration affects the health of the people seriously.
There is an underlying need for increasing the number of food testing laboratories with highly useful chemical analysis methods.
Adulteration can also bring down by educating the public to identify adulteration