Hyderabad, Nov 10: India has finally upgraded food standards to those of
international specifications as part of the two-pronged strategy to protect the
health of citizens and effectively compete in the world market.
Under the new food standards, the Central government has fixed permissible
limits for pesticide and pharmacological residues in food items including
processed foods, fruits and vegetables. The new rules now in place stipulate
that no food item should contain any contaminant, naturally occurring toxic
substances, toxins, hormones, heavy metals, anti-biotics residues or myco-
toxins beyond a permissible limit.
Manufacturers violating the new Rules will attract a prison term up to six
months and a penalty ranging up to Rs 5 lakh. There is also compensation for
the kin of the victims of contaminated food. In case of death, the
compensation is Rs 5 lakh. For serious injuries (health hazards) the
compensation fixed is Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh for other health hazards.
"Thus far, India has been following its own food standards. Now it has
upgraded its standards to those of Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body
jointly set up by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture
Organisation of United Nations. This will ensure protection of human life
and health as well as consumers' interests," says Dr V Sudarshan Rao, senior
scientist at the National Institute of Nutrition here.
Representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organisation are currently in the
city to discuss with local health scientists and nutrition experts the
importance of Codex standards and the benefits India and its citizens would
accrue from upgrading the local food standards. With Indian falling in line,
the food standards of edible items right from apple juice to almonds, from ice
cream to canned fish and from salted peanuts to cheese and infant milk
products will be on international health specifications and food safety norms.
According to Biplab K Nandi, FAO senior food and nutrition officer, the
purpose of Codex standards are to protect the health of consumers and ensure
fair practices in the food trade and promote coordination of all food standards
work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental
To ensure that the new food standards are implemented all over the country
effectively, the Centre has proposed a Food Safety and Standards Authority
of India at the national level. There will also be similar bodies at the State
level. Scientific panels and food panels have also been proposed to monitor
food additives, flavourings, processing aids, pesticides and anti-biotic
residues, genetically modified organisms and foods, dietetic products,
biological hazards, crop contaminants, heavy metals, pharmacological active
substances and irradiation of foods.
It has also imposed restriction on import of any unsafe, misbranded or
substandard food or food containing extraneous matter.
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