Sunday, 2 November 2008

Adulteration – Interesting Court Cases

November 2, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Individual merchants and firms involved in deliberate food adulteration quite often escape punishment taking shelter under legal loopholes including wrong sampling by authorities. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act is strong enough to punish the guilty but certain legal technicalities have come in handy for unscrupulous elements to avoid jail or fine or both.

Here is a sample of cases from various courts on food adulteration:

Insect Infestation

A sample of suji was analysed by authorities six days after it was collected from a trader.
The trader took shelter behind the delay in the analysis. It is possible that insects may develop after the sample was taken, since public analyst did not mention about living insects in the same. The term insects infested means a swarm of insects or at least a large number of insects. (Municipal Corporation, Delhi vs. Shri Ramji Das) Delhi High Court, FAC 1988 (II) 20.

Fly in Milk:

Milk sample contained a dead fly, which would not make the milk to be infested (State of Punjab vs. Mahinder Singh) Punjab and Haryana High Court, FAC 1985 (II) 44.

Insect Eggs in food items:

Mere presence of eggs in an article of food and with no living insect visible to the naked eye cannot be held that the article of food is insect infested (Municipal Corporation Delhi vs. Badrinath) Delhi High Court, FAC 1982 (I) 211.

Suji sample showed presence of living insects. In view of liability laid down by Supreme Court (New Delhi Municipal Corporation vs. Kaccheroo Mal) FAC 1975 (II) 223, this petition is allowed as there is no evidence that suji sample was unfit for human consumption. (Bal Kishan vs. State or Pubjab) FAC 1986 (I) 33.

Rat droppings:

Sabat Mash (green dal) is primary food and the presence of rat drop-dropping was
due to natural causes and beyond the control of petitioner (Behari Lal
vs. State of Himachal Pradesh), FAC 1987 (i) 85.

Iron in tea:

Iron filings found in a sample of tea were within the tolerance limits of size and quality of letter issued by Ministry of Health. Complaint as well as process issued quashed (Claude Victor Lawrence Godwin vs. State) Punjab and High Court. FAC 1982 (II) 257.

About Cow’s milk:

Cow's milk, a primary food, needs to be interpreted in a wider sense in which case the words, “produce of agriculture” would take in not merely that which grows on land but also draws sustenance from the land viz the cattle including cows. It cannot be doubted that the cow's milk which is drawn from the secretion of the cows reared on that which grows on land must mean that it is in its natural form (State of Nagpur Corporations vs. Lakshman Rannji Hundiwala and others) Bombay High Court, FAC 1985 (II)95.

Atta & Chapattis:

Atta stored for preparation of chapattis falls within the definition of food even if it is not for sale as such. (NDMC vs. Hardev Singh Delhi High Court, FAC 1980 (I) 472.

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