Indian Laws on Food Adulteration and Misbranding
Food adulteration is a growing problem in India, with rampant instances of adulteration of even essential food items such as milk, ghee and spices. Misbranding is another malpractice where manufacturers, in a bid to popularize their products and boost profits, package their products in a way that they resemble an existing popular product. Making false promises on the product package or on advertisements also amount to misbranding. To avoid such malpractice, consumers must be aware of their rights and understand the provisions of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, that has strict punishments for offenders. Lack of awareness amongst consumers is a major contributor to this growing problem.
The Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and its Provisions
The Act extends to the whole of India and defines an adulterated item thus:
- If the article sold by a vendor is not of standard nature, substance or quality
- If the article contains something or has been processed in a way that it negatively impacts its quality and substance
- If any cheaper or inferior substance has been substituted wholly or fully so as to injuriously impact the nature, substance and quality of the product
- If the article has been packed and kept in unsanitary conditions and thus has been contaminated or injurious to health.
- Consists wholly or in part of any dirty, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance or is unfit for human consumption
- If the article has been procured from a diseased animal
- If the container of the article or the article itself includes anything poisonous, thus making it injurious to health.
- If the article contains a prohibited coloring material or preservative, or in case of materials that are permitted, the quantity is in excess of the allowed limits
- If the purity of the article is below the prescribed standards
Food items are considered misbranded if:
- They are an imitation of an existing product or resemble it in a manner likely to deceive customers
- Falsely stated to be the product of a specific place or country
- It is sold by a name belonging to another food item
- It is colored, polished or presented in a manner so as to conceal a defect
- If the label makes false claims about its quality and purity level
- If the contents of a package are not correctly stated on the packing
- If the package bears the name of a fictitious company or manufacturer
- If it is falsely recommended for special dietary purposes
- If the label does not declare the amount of the preservatives or artificial coloring included in the contents of the pack
- It is not labeled in accordance with the set rules