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The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act aimed at the avoidance of adulteration of food which may affect unhealthy living conditions. The Act also intends to penalize the dealers who are engaged in the production and sale of contaminated food substance. The legislation was enacted on September 29, 1954 and the Act came into force on June 1, 1955.

The Act defines ‘adulterant’ as any substance that is applied in the food for purpose of adulteration. If the food sold by the dealer is of low quality as demanded by the buyer, such food is said to be adulterated. The food is also considered to be adulterated where the food is mixed with any other substance which adversely affects the quality of the food, any substandard item is substituted with the food, the food is organized and packed under unhygienic condition that is detrimental to health, the food includes any dirty putrid, dead or decayed animal or any other substance unhealthy for consumption, contains any poisonous material, article contain banned preservatives or the purity of the material is less than the prescribed standard. According to the legislation ‘primary food’ means any food substance that is the result of agricultural or horticultural product.

The Act provides for the appointment of Director of Central Food Laboratory by the Central Government to discharge the functions under the enactment. The Director of Medical and Health Services shall act as the Food (Health) Authority under the Act. The Central or the State Government shall also appoint such other officials to fulfill the responsibilities of Food (Heath) Authority under the Act. For the purpose of guiding the Central and the State Governments on the administrative affairs of the Act and to accomplish such other functions, the Central Government is empowered to appoint The Central Committee for Food Standards. The Act also entrusts the Central Government to constitute Central Food Laboratory to perform the functions as provided by the Act. Additionally, the department of The Ministry of Health & family welfare under the Central Government is responsible for supplying quality sea foods to the purchasers.

The Act bars the import of food that are adulterated or misbranded; import of food without license or the import is inconsistent with the provisions of the Act or the rules formulated by the Government. The production, sale, accumulation or distribution of adulterated or misbranded food is prohibited under the Act. The Act also forbids the trade of food without license and the food that is banned by Food (Health) Authority. The Central government shall appoint Public Analyst with prescribed qualifications for certain areas, but different analyst shall be appointed for different variety of food substance. The Act also authorizes the Central Government to employ Food Inspectors in specified areas, who shall be deemed as Public Servants within the meaning of Indian Penal Code. The Food Inspector shall collect samples of the food and send it for examination, ban the sale of any food that adversely affects public health, inspect the food, seize and take away food that are suspected to be adulterated etc.

In 2006, the Central government enacted the Food Safety and Standards Act to constitute Food Safety and Standards Authority. The Authority is entrusted with the duty to ensure healthy food for consumption and to regulate commercial activities relating to food substances. The Act also lays down general values and ideologies to be pursued in the administration of the legislation. The Central Government has also formulated the Food Safety and Standards Rules in 2011 which provides for the constitution, powers and functions of officials appointed by the Central Government.