Directions for curbing milk adulteration issued; Government asked to evolve a complaint mechanism to check corruption by Food Authorities

Supreme Court: Acting upon the PIL highlighting the menace of growing sales of adulterated and synthetic milk in different parts of the country, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJI, R. Banumathi and U.U. Lalit, JJ directed the Union of India and the State Governments shall take appropriate steps to implement Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 in a more effective manner. Considering the seriousness of the matter, the Court issued the below mentioned guidelines
• Appropriate steps should be taken to inform owners of dairy, dairy operators and retailers working in the State that if chemical adulterants like pesticides, caustic soda and other chemicals are found in the milk, then stringent action will be taken.
• High risk areas, where there is greater presence of petty food manufacturer/business operator etc., and times especially near festivals etc., when there is risk of ingesting adulterated milk or milk products due to environmental and other factors, should be identified and greater number of food samples should be taken from those areas.
• Food Safety Authorities (FSA) should also ensure that there is adequate lab testing infrastructure and ensure that all labs have/obtain NABL accreditation to facilitate precise testing. State Government to ensure that State food testing laboratories/district food laboratories are well-equipped with the technical persons and testing facilities.
• FSA should take measures for sampling of milk and milk products, including spot testing through Mobile Food Testing Vans equipped with primary testing kits for conducting qualitative test of adulteration in food.
• For curbing milk adulteration, an appropriate State Level Committee headed by the Chief Secretary or the Secretary of Dairy Department and District Level Committee headed by the concerned District Collector shall be constituted as is done in the State of Maharashtra to take the review of the work done to curb the milk adulteration in the district and in the State by the authorities.
• The authorities should also inform the general public of the nature of risk to health and create awareness of Food Safety and Standards and educate school children by conducting workshops and teaching them easy methods for detection of common adulterants in food, keeping in mind indigenous technological innovations (such as milk adulteration detection strips etc.)
Directing the Union of India/State Governments to evolve a complaint mechanism for checking corruption and other unethical practices of the Food Authorities and their officers, the Court said that a website should be set up, specifying the functioning and responsibilities of food safety authorities and also creating awareness about complaint mechanisms. Also, all States should also have and maintain toll free telephonic and online complaint mechanism. [Swami Achyutanand Tirth v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 770, decided on 05.08.2016]

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