Food Adultration and Punishment

Food Adultration

The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 aims at making provisions for the prevention of adulteration of food. The Act extends to the whole of India and came into force on 1st June 1955.

What is adulterated food?
An article of food shall be deemed to be adulterated –
  1. if the article sold by a vendor is not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser or which it purports to be;
  2. if the article contains any substance affecting its quality or of it is so processed as to injuriously affect its nature, substance or quality;
  3. if any inferior or cheaper substance has been substituted wholly or partly for the article, or any constituent of the article has been wholly or partly abstracted from it, so as to affecting its quality or of it is so processed as to injuriously affect its nature, substance or quality;
  4. if the article had been prepared, packed or kept under insanitary conditions whereby it has become contaminated or injurious to health;
  5. if the article consists wholly or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance or being insect-infested, or is otherwise unfit for human consumption;
  6.  if the article is obtained from a diseased animal;
  7.  if the article contains any poisonous or other ingredient which is injurious to health;
  8. if the container of the article is composed of any poisonous or deleterious substance which renders its contents injurious to health;
  9.  if the article contains any prohibited coloring matter or preservative, or any permitted coloringmatter or preservative in excess of the prescribed limits;
  10. if the quality or purity of the article falls below the prescribed standard, or its constituents are present in proportions other standard, or its constituents are present in proportions other than those prescribed, whether or not rendering it injurious to health.
Thus, additions of water to milk amount to adulteration, within the meaning of sub-clauses (b) or (c).

When are foods misbranded
An article of food shall be deemed to be misbranded-
  1. if it is an imitation of, or is a substitute for, or resembles in a manner likely to deceive, another article of food, and is not conspicuously labeled so as to indicate its true character,
  2.  if it is falsely stated to be the product of any place or country,
  3.  if it is sold by a name which belongs to another article of food,
  4. if it is so colored, flavored, coated, powdered or polished as to conceal any damage to the article or to appear of greater value than it really is,
  5. if false claims are made for it upon the label or otherwise,
  6.  if, when sold in sealed or prepared packages by its manufacturer, the contents of each package are not conspicuously and correctly stated on the outside thereof;
  7.  if the package containing it is deceptive with respect to its contents, in any manner, such as label, statement, design or device which is misleading,
  8.  if the package containing it, or the label thereon, bears the name of a fictitious individual or company as the manufacturer or producer of the article,
  9.  if it purports to be, or is represented as being for special dietary uses, unless its label bears the prescribed information concerning its dietary properties,
  10. if it contains any artificial flavoring, coloring or chemical preservatives without declaring the same on the label, or in violation of the requirements of this Act and the Rules madethereunder, and
  11. if it is not labeled in accordance with the requirements of this Act and the Rules madethereunder.
Preservative: means a substance which when added to food, is capable of inhibiting, retarding or arresting the process of fermentation, acidification or other decomposition of food.

Prohibitions and Restrictions

Prohibition on The Manufacture, Sale, Etc. Of Certain Food Articles
No person shall manufacture, store, sell or distribute
  1. any adulterated food,
  2. any misbranded food,
  3. food articles to be sold under license without fulfilling the conditions of the license,
  4. any food article the sale of which is prohibited by the Food (Health) Authority in the interest of public health,
  5. any food article in contravention of any other provision of the Act or the Rules, (see ‘Conditions for Sale’) or
  6. any adulterant.
The act of storing an adulterated article of food would be an offence only if storing is for sale. The sale of a part of the stored article constitutes an offence distinct and independent from the offence of storing for sale.

Prohibition on Use Of Certain Expressions While Labeling of Edible Oils And Fats
The package, label or the advertisement of edible oils and fats shall not use the expressions Super-Refined, Extra-Refined, Micro-Refined, Double-Refined, Ultra-Refined, Anti-Cholesterol, Cholesterol Fighter, Soothing to Heart, Cholesterol Friendly, Saturated Fat Free or such other expressions which are exaggerations of the quality of the product. (Rule 37 D).

Prohibition on Sale Of Certain Admixtures
For example, cream which has not been prepared exclusively from milk, milk which contains any added water, ghee which contains any added matter not exclusively derived from milk fat, a mixture of two or more edible oils as an edible oil and turmeric containing any foreign substances, etc. (Rule 44)

Prohibition on Use of Acetylene Gas (carbide gas) in artificially ripening of fruits (Rule 44 AA).

Prohibition on Sale of Food Articles Coated With Mineral Oil, except in accordance with the permitted standards. (Rule 44 AAA and Appendix B).

Restriction on Sale of Ghee having less than specified Reichert value except under the "AGMARK" seal. (Rule 46).

Prohibition on Sale of Admixtures of Ghee or Butter or on its use as an ingredient in the preparation of an article of food. (Rule 46).
Any food item resembling honey, but not pure honey, shall not be marked "honey". (Rule 45).

Restriction on Sale of Kangra Tea except only after it is graded and marked in accordance with the provisions of Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act, 1937 and the Rules madethereunder. (Rule 44E).

Conditions for Sale of Flavored Tea only by those manufacturers. Who are registered with Tea Board and the package bearing the label, ‘FLAVOURED TEA’ (Common name of permitted flavor, percentage and Registration No.). (Rule 44G).

Restriction on Sale of Common Salt No person shall, sell or offer or expose for sale or have in his premises for the purpose of sale, common salt for direct human consumption unless the same isiodized. (Rule 44H).

Restriction on Use and Sale of Artificial Sweeteners except that saccharin sodium can be added to carbonated water, supari, pan masala and pan flavoring material within the specified maximum limit and aspertaine may be sold for diabetic use under medical advice. (Rule 47).
Prohibition on Sale of Permitted Food Colors, i.e. Synthetic colors, or their mixtures or any preparation of such colors, except under a license. (Rule 48A).

Prohibition on Sale of Permitted Food Additives, except only under the ISI certification marks.(Rule 48C).
Prohibition on Use of Coumarin and Dihydro Cocumarin, Tankabean (Dipteryl Adorat) and B-Asarane And Cinamyl Authracilate, as flavoring agents. Any extraneous addition of flavoringagent should be mentioned on the label attached to any package of food so flavored, in capital letters in the following manner:

Restriction on Use of Preservatives
 Addition of Class I preservatives i.e. Common Salt, Sugar, Dextrose, Glucose (syrup), Spices, Vinegar or acetic acid, honey and edible vegetable oil, in any food is not restricted, provided that the food article to which the preservative has been added conforms to the specifications laid down in Appendix B.
Class II preservatives such as Benzoic acid and its salts, sodium diacetate and sodium, potassium and calcium salts of lactic acid, etc. can be used only restrictively. Use of more than one Class II preservative is prohibited.
Conditions for Sale of A Food Article,
Every utensil or container, used for manufacturing, preparing or containing any food or ingredientstherefore, and second hand tin containers for packaging of edible oils and fats, meant for sale, shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, away from impure air or dust, properly covered at all times, and such utensils or containers shall not be used for any other purpose. Use of rusty containers, improperly tinned copper or brass containers, containers of aluminum or plastic not conforming to ISI specifications, etc., in preparation of food, is also prohibited. Besides, certain special conditions for sale of certain articles such as asafoetida, salseed fat, lactic acid, edible oils,katha, margarine, milk powder, etc. have also been laid down.
With effect from 22.2.95, on person shall sell powdered spices except in packed form. No person shall sell or serve food in any commercial establishment in plastic articles used in catering and cutlery, unless the plastic material used in catering and cutlery articles, conform to the food grade plastic
 Purchaser May Have Food Analyzed
A purchaser of any article of food, or a recognized consumer association, may also get an article of food analyzed by the public analyst on payment of the prescribed fees, provided that the vendor is informed of this intended action at the time of purchase. Thereafter, the purchaser or the consumer associations, have to follow the same procedure as discussed above in the case of Food Inspectors. If the article of food is found to be adulterated, the fees paid by the purchaser or the association shall be refunded.

Offences and Penalties

  • Import, manufacture, storage, sale or distribution of any food article which is adulterated by allowing its quality or purity to fall below the prescribed standard, or is misbranded, or in contravention of any provision of the Act or Rules. Penalty is minimum imprisonment of six months that may extend upto 3 years and minimum fine of Rs 1000.
  • Import, manufacture, storage, sale or distribution of any adulterant not injurious to health. Penalty is minimum imprisonment of six months that may extend upto 3 years and minimum fine of Rs 1000
  • Preventing a Food Inspector from taking a sample or exercising his powers. Penalty is minimum imprisonment of six months that may extend upto 3 years and minimum fine of Rs 1000
  • Giving a false warranty in writing in respect of any food article. Penalty is minimum imprisonment of six months that may extend upto 3 years and minimum fine of Rs 1000
  • Import, manufacture, storage, sale or distribution of any food article which is adulterated within the meaning of any of the sub-clauses (e) to (l) of section 2(ia); or any adulterant which is injurious to health. Penalty is minimum imprisonment of one year that may extend upto 6 years and minimum fine of Rs 2000
  • Sale or distribution of any food article containing any poisonous or other ingredient injurious to health, which is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm. Penalty is minimum imprisonment of three years that may extend upto life and minimum fine of Rs 5000


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