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  • Writer's pictureLAWGIC STRATUM

Laws Governing the Food Industry in India

Author: Shriya Bhatkhande

“For a product to carry a health claim on its package, it must first have a package, so right off the bat it's more likely to be processed rather than a whole food.” ―Michael Pollan, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual


India came a long way from a starving country of 1947 to one of the leading producers of food. The food industry in India is broadly perceived as a 'sunrise industry'; striving to be the food industry of the globe. It also bears great wherewithal to elate Agri-sector, formation of an extensive food chain followed by job opportunities, and revenue generated from exports.[1]

Nonetheless, the Indian government is well apprehensive about the probabilities of food being adulterated. Accordingly, bureaus and institutes are constituted along with several laws to eliminate the risk and preserve food quality and standards. The aspect in which the food is handled and packaged is also screened by strict supervision.[2]

Laws governing the food industry

The Indian food corporation is monitored by certain laws which supervise the facets of licensing, hygiene, and more fundamental permissions prescribed to launch and carry on with a food business. The bill that participated with food safety in India was the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (PFA). The PFA served over 5 decades and demanded amendments.[3] The PFA was substituted with the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 that revoked every food law. It individually invalidated eight laws in force earlier to the imposition of FSSA,

1. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954

2. The Fruit Products Order, 1955

3. The Meat Food Products Order, 1973

4. The Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947

5. The Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998

6. The Solvent Extracted Oil, De oiled Meal, and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967

7. The Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992

8. Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (about food)

FSSA triggers compliance with India's food regulations according to international models. It authorized a new national regulatory body, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) suggested by the Government on the 5th of August 2011, to establish scientific standards and supervise the production, storage, transportation, purchase, and import of food assuring the safety for human consumption.[4]

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)

The PFA inhibits the production, trade, and delivery of adulterated foods as well as foods contaminated with toxicants. The Act has established a central bureau for food standards that includes, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore (CFTRI),and Central Food Laboratory, Calcutta. It standardizes the usage of food additives, chemicals, flavours, and pesticides.[5][6]

The Act states an article of food shall be believed to be adulterated-

- If the article had been developed, packaged, or stored under unhygienic conditions.

- If the quality or pureness of the article falls short or surplus of the recommended limits.

- If any substandard or baser item has been replaced fully or partially for the article.

- If the article is retrieved from an ailing animal.

- If any colouring material apart from as recommended and in supplies not within the prescriptive boundaries.

- If the article incorporates any proscribed preservative or enabled preservative in surplus of the recommended limits.

- If the article involves any vicious ingredient which represents its substances unhealthy.

- If the article subsists of any nasty, rotting, objectionable, decomposed, or insect-infested entity for human consumption.

- If the article traded by a businessperson is not of the description or quality needed by the customer and as it is displayed to be.[7]

A. Packaging and Labelling:

FSSA administers an independent regulation called as Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011 which formulates the legal specifications for packaging and labeling of commodities. It specifies various types of products viz Pre-packaged, proprietary, and other distinct products as suggested in the statutes. The FSSA administers the general specifications for labelingfood products.[8]

Every package label of food shall have information on the label including, the name of the product and full address of the producer, list of ingredients, nutritional value and instructions for use, notification referring to veg/non-veg and addition of food supplements, manufacturing, and expiry (best before) date, country source if imported, net quantity, lot/code/batch tag.[9] The specifics of declaration required under these Regulations to be specified on the label has to be in English or Hindi in Devanagari script.[10] Pre-packaged food shall not be shown on the label in any manner that is untrue, inaccurate, or fraudulent or is inclined to set up an invalid perception of its nature in any regard. The application of the label should be affixed firmly so that it will not split from the packet. Compositions on the label shall be straightforward, eminent, permanent, and easily readable by the buyers. In case the container is enclosed by a wrapper, the wrapper shall give the instructions. The label on the container has to be easily readable across the outlying wrapper and not overshadowed by it.[11]

B. Signage and Consumer Memos

FSSA has legal provisions with a viewpoint of a food market for the publicity of products by food business drivers. FSSA describes the word "advertisement" as any aural or visible commercial, portrayal, or edict made by utilizing illumination, sound, smoke, gas, print, electronic media, internet, or website and consists of the memo, circular, label, wrapper, invoice, etc.[12] FSSA provides that no advertisement shall be ambiguous, duping, or violating the rules and regulations ascertained. No individual shall undertake dishonest trade with intent to favouring the sale, supply, handling, and utilization of food. Also, passing deceitful comments, whether verbally, written, or visual depiction to show false information on food specifications, providing a guarantee on the potency of the product hinged on inadequate scientific confirmation forthwith.[13]

C. Licensing Registration and Health and Hygiene Permits

FSSA is accountable for public health and sanitary permits as being the only regulatory body in the country. The Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulations, 2011 administer the mandatory prospect of license and registration of a food business director. No individual shall initiate any food business without an authentic license is owned and the security, healthy and sanitary prerequisites have to be obeyed every time. It is thus perceived and affirmed as an affair of parliamentary decision that human nutrition and hygienic food are fundamental to the well-being of the population.[14]

Typically, infringement with FSSA may entice a penalty of up to 2 Lac INR. If any individual or food business owner who is compelled to secure a license, produces, sells, stocks, distributes, or imports food without a license, is condemned with custody for a duration extending to 6 months and a fine of 5 Lac INR.[15]

Other Registrations and Licenses

India being a big market, each state has their local laws to be followed viz. health and trade permits from the municipal association of the applicable area, acquisition certificate, police act enrolment corresponding city/state, verification authentication of Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976 shops issued by the Department of Legal Metrology, listing under the shops and establishments act, selling liquor and eating house permits, license to play recorded/live music, public insurance policy for food accountability, fire, infrastructure and construction, employment provision funds act if the employee number is more than 20, central excise act, income tax act, customs act, labour laws, etc.[16] Foreign Direct Investment is legitimate for all refined food products up to 100% automated track.[17]


The preface of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act settled priority only on the prevention of food adulteration. FSSA offers significance on centralizing the mandates associated with food and to formulate FSSAI to affirm science-based specifications to standardize their processing, repository, marketing, purchase, and import, to ensure safe and healthy food for human intake. The modern target certainly afar the intentions of PFA. The stringent penalties levied in FSSA might increase exploitation, as businesses may recur to unfair methods to dodge these penalties.[18]

The PFA handled myriad Government ministries serving diverse food divisions in line with independent orders, released at different occasions which at times overlapped. On the flip side, FSSA facilitates single-direction compliance. The regulatory force of the FSSA has been authorized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare by basing a sole reference point for every element and eliminating any probability of heterogeneousness of orders. FSSA governs food sanitation and safety laws to methodically and accurately expand the food industry.

Also, Read [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]

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