Food Law: Role of Judiciary in Implementation of Food Adulteration Laws

Pavan Kumar


Food is the essential need of life. One buckles down and procures to fulfill our appetite and unwind and appreciate later. Yet, by the day’s end, a significant number of us don’t know of what we eat. Food[1] is defined as a substance which is processed, partially processed or unprocessed and fir for human consumption. We might eat a perilous color, sawdust, cleanser stone, modern starch, and aluminum foil. Food and beverages are regular wellsprings of contamination. Regularly, we welcome illnesses instead of good wellbeing. Food adulteration is a demonstration of deliberately corrupting the nature of food offered available to be purchased either by the admixture or substitution of second rate substances or by the removal of some important fixing. Food adulteration considers not just the purposeful expansion or substitution or reflection of substances which unfavorably influence nature, substances and nature of foods, yet in addition their accidental tainting amid the time of development, collecting, stockpiling, handling, transport and circulation.

Adulterant implies, any material which is or could be utilized for making the food hazardous or inadequate or mis-marked or containing incidental issue. Food is defiled if its quality is brought down or influenced by the expansion of substances which are harmful to wellbeing or by the removal of substances which are nutritious. It is characterized as the demonstration of purposefully spoiling the nature of food offered available to be purchased either by the admixture or substitution of mediocre substances or by the removal of some. Under the Food and Safety Standards Act, 2006, adulterant[2] is defined as a material which makes the food unsafe, sub-standard, mis-branded and contains extraneous matter.

An adulterant is a concoction substance which ought not be contained inside different substances, for example food, drinks, and energizes, for lawful or different reasons. The expansion of adulterants is called adulteration. The word is proper just when the increments are undesirable by the beneficiary. Generally the articulation would be food added substance. Adulterants when utilized in unlawful medications are called cutting operators, while conscious expansion of poisonous adulterants to food or different items for human utilization is known as toxic substance.

An example of suji analysed after around 6 days for insect infection. It is conceivable that bugs may create after the example was taken, since open expert did not make reference to about living insects in the equivalent. The term insects invaded implies a swarm of bugs or possibly an extensive number of bugs.[3] 

Milk test contained one dead fly, which would not make the milk to be plagued and contaminated. Hence, it is adulterated.[4]

Mere nearness eggs of in an article of food and with no living insect noticeable to the unaided eye can’t be held that the article of food is bug swarmed.[5]

As food adulteration is done from multiple points of view, one should accurately recognize what the precise definition of the term is. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 characterizes the expressions adulterant and adulterated in such a significant number of words. In layman’s language it implies corrupting of food article with a second rate or injurious substance. It is a sort of moderate harming. It is pulverization of human life. It is the gravest of financial wrongdoing. It is called financial wrongdoing inclination to dissolve national wellbeing, character and economy, in equivalent measure. The adulteration, by influencing the human asset of a country, has direct effect on national advancement and generation (GDP) of a nation especially India which is a creating nation. This might be the motivation behind why Food Safety and Standards Act (known as FSSA), 2006 characterizes the expression “hazardous food” rather of adulterated food.

Development of Food Laws

In perspective on the significance of food in human life, the Government of India has enacted food laws every once in a while. The laws managing the nature of food have been in power in India since 1899. Article 47[6]orders the obligation of the State to raise the dimension of nourishment and the way of life and to improve general wellbeing. The State will respect the raising of the dimension of nourishment and the way of life of its kin and the improvement of general wellbeing as among its essential obligations. Until 1954, a few states had their very own food related laws. The Government of India then established focal enactment called Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1955, with an article to set out the norms for food and guidelines for naming and bundling, which was revoked in 2011. Till the sanctioning of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, assortment of laws like the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, Fruit Products Order, 1955, the Meat food item Order, 1973, the Vegetable Oil Products Order, 1947, Edible Oils Packaging Order, 1998, the Solvent Extracted Oil, De-oiled Meal, and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967, the Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992, Essential Commodities Act, 1955 were in presence.

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Assortment of laws in food part was making perplexity in the minds of shoppers, dealers and producers. The Standing Committee of Parliament on Agriculture in its twelfth Report submitted in April 2005 to Parliament, wanted to have a coordinated Food Law for whole food preparing industry and everything channels like production to retailing[7]. In this manner it cleared way for presenting the Food Safety and Standards Bill 2005 in the Parliament lastly the Bill was passed in the year 2006.

Essential food or handled food is presently represented by Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 in India. Be that as it may, the whole Act came into till that time Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and different Acts were in force[8]. Food Safety and Standards Act manages the whole procedure of inventory network from assembling, stockpiling, appropriation, bundling, marking, deal and import.

Judicial Pronouncements

A couple of recent case laws are worth to make reference to are, Swami Achyutanand Tirth and Ors v Union Of India and Ors[9], which include the threat of developing offers of defiled and manufactured milk in various pieces of the nation. The court had taken a genuine note for this situation and communicated worried for expanding customer mindfulness about sick impacts of milk adulteration as stipulated in Section 18(1)(f) the States/Food Authority/Commissioner of Food Safety will educate the overall population regarding the idea of hazard to wellbeing and make consciousness of Food Safety and Standards.

One more case is that of M/S Omkar Agency and Anr v The State of Bihar[10]  in which the power vested with Commissioner of Food Safety and Standards had been tested. Further, M/S Nestle India Limited v The Food Safety And Standards[11] with respect to late debate of Maggie containing high level of pesticide, M/s. Dhariwal Industries Limited and another v. The State of Maharashtra and others[12]testing legitimacy of the arrangements of two unique Regulations under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 just as the statutory request dated 19 July 2012 of the Commissioner of Food Safety. The debate was with respect to forbidding of assembling, supply and appropriation of dish masala containing tobacco.

Nestle Judgment

The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the judgment[13] set aside the boycott forced on 9 variations of Nestle Maggi Noodles by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, “FSSAI” and the Commissioner of Food Safety, State of Maharashtra on the ground that the requests forcing boycott were subjective and the standards of regular equity were not pursued while forcing the previously mentioned boycott by the Respondents.

The Hon’ble High Court coordinated that 5 tests from each clump cases out of 750 containers held by the M/s Nestle India Limited might be tried in three research centers referenced in that inside about a month and a half and in the event that the lead is found inside reasonable cutoff points, at that point the Petitioner-Company would be allowed to make every one of the variations of the noodles for which item endorsement has been conceded by the Food Authority. The High Court guided the research centers to pursue the method set down under Section 472 and other pertinent arrangements/Regulations of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The High Court, despite the fact that would not acknowledge the recommendation that the fourth example in the ownership of the Respondents ought to likewise be tried for the reason that method of testing was not under taken according Section 47(1) of the Act. The court likewise guided the Petitioner to look for item endorsement for the Maggi Oats Masala Noodles with Tastemaker.


The Petitioner – Company is a producer of “Maggi Noodles” and its 9 variations in India. Subsequent to perusing the media reports in regards to abundance lead in its item, Petitioner-Company quickly made declaration in regards to withdrawal of its items from the market till its name was cleared of the charges. The Petitioner anyway illuminated that the item according to their reports is sheltered. FSSAI and CEO, FSSAI, based on the different reports of the Food Analyst, passed a request forcing restriction on all the 9 variations of “Maggi Noodles” on the accompanying grounds:-

  • Lead was observed to be in abundance of as far as possible;
  • The item was misbranded since it was expressed in the parcel- No additional MSG, anyway MSG was found in the item;
  • Maggi Oats Masala Noodles was being sold with no item endorsement/hazard evaluation.
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Comparative request was additionally passed by the State of Maharashtra and Commissioner of Food Safety, State of Maharashtra forcing restriction on the assembling, deal, appropriation and supply of the Petitioner’s items in the State of Maharashtra.

Decision of the Court

The Bombay High Court, subsequent to giving a definite hearing, permitted the appeal recorded by the Petitioner and put aside the orders gone by the Respondents. The court permitted the appeal on the accompanying grounds:-

As to the viability of the appeal, the court held that the condemned request can’t be carefully said to be a show cause see since the request forces restriction on assembling, deal, conveyance of variations of Maggi Noodles in this manner forcing a total prohibition on the item.[14] The court, depending upon the Supreme Court’s judgment in Whirlpool Corporation v. Enlistment center of Trade imprints, Mumbai and others[15], held that elective cure isn’t generally a bar in moving toward the High Court under Article 226[16] of the Constitution of India, especially when the petitioner challenges the request on the ground of standards of normal equity. The court thusly presumed that the request is viable under Article 226[17] of the Constitution of India.

With respect to the concealment of certainties by the Petitioner, the High Court, in the wake of examining the following reports of Postal Department and its affirmation, held that the reports were gotten after the appeal was recorded and in this way there has been no concealment of realities with respect to the Petitioner. The court, depending on the minutes of the gatherings held between the Petitioner and the Respondents, held that the Petitioner had made each stride according to the bearings of the Food Authority and the Petitioner was coordinated to wreck the food parcels made by it. Additionally, it was opined that the Food Regulator isn’t relied upon to take antagonistic remain in such issues.

The court saw that the elucidation that for restrictive foods, the FSS Regulations[18] would not make a difference and the Food Authority conceding the item endorsement would choose what might be the points of confinement recommended for added substances, contaminants and different substances that might be contained in the exclusive food, is erroneous and negates the arrangements of Section 223[19] of the FSS Act.

Depending on the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011, the court further saw that the Food Authority does not have a free attentiveness to choose the norms to be kept up by the makers of restrictive food and is bound by the admissible furthest reaches of added substances and contaminants referenced in the said Regulations.

As to the elucidation of section 223[20] of the Act, the court saw that the issue does not emerge for thought in the actualities of the present case and hence abandoned it open to be contended in the suitable issue.

The court held that the Food Authority ought to have given a legitimate chance to the Petitioner–Company to demonstrate that the item is alright for human utilization and it was not important to force an across the nation prohibition on the item more especially in light of the fact that the Petitioner had reviewed its items till the specialists were fulfilled till the security of the item.

The court was of the opinion that it is hard to follow the starting point of the ability to boycott the item on crisis premise to Section 10(5)[21], 16(1)[22], 16(5)[23], 18[24], 22[25], 26, 28[26]and 29[27] of the Act and saw that Respondent No.1 and 2 have passed the request under section 30[28] or 34[29] of the Act and Respondent No. 3 and 4 have gone under Section 30[30] of the Act. Court was of the opinion that the said stand was taken by the Respondent No.1 and 2 to legitimize their activity of not giving show cause notice to the Petitioner before passing the request forcing prohibition on the item. The court thus depending on the Supreme Court’s decisions C.B.Gautam v. Association of India and Ors[31] and Godawat Pan Masala Products I.P. Ltd. v. Association of India and Ors[32]., held that Section 30[33] of the Act despite the fact that does not in wording makes reference to that standards of common equity must be pursued, it is suggested that such a course must be ordinarily pursued. The Respondents, notwithstanding being an agent of the parliament, ought to have given the material to the Petitioner based on which the reprimanded requests were passed with the goal that the Petitioner–Company could have a chance to give its answer to the material based on which the denounced requests were passed.

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The court further held that the Food Analyst needs to break down the food just in such research facility which is characterized under section 3(p)[34] and perceived by the Food Authority under section 43(1)[35]of the Act.

Thus, court saw that there is no material to substantiate that MSG was found regardless of the way that bundle contained affirmation that there is “No additional MSG”. Further, it is no one’s case that the Petitioner had included the MSG however, the Petitioner had announced that there is no additional MSG. It was seen that even generally Glucomate is found normally in particular kinds of food and acknowledged that the Petitioners have consented to evacuate the affirmation “No additional MSG” from the bundling. Alluding to section 5[36] of the Act, held that misbranding of item in this way can’t be a ground for forbidding the item uncertainly.

As for the Maggi Oats Masala Noodles, the Court held that the Respondents could have asked the Petitioners not to create, or sell the said variation and it was the obligation of the Respondents to advise the Petitioner about how the necessities as to the item endorsement were not consented to, so the equivalent can be agreed to by the Petitioner–Company.


With the increase in adulteration of food, the need for instituting relevant law increased, thereby introducing Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. This Act ensures institution of effective procedures to enable the production and distribution of non-adulterated food.

The judiciary has also played an important role in order to facilitate the functioning of such an Act, the Maggi case being the most recent and relevant one.

[1] Food and Safety Standards Act 2006, Section 3(j).

[2] Food and Safety Standards Act 2006, Section 3(a).

[3] City Corpn. Delhi v. Shri Ramji Das, Delhi High Court, FAC 1988 (II) 20.

[4] State of Punjab v. Mahinder Singh, Punjab and Haryana High Court, FAC 1985 (II) 44.

[5] Municipal Corporation Delhi v. Badrinath, Delhi High Court, FAC 1982 (I) 211.

[6] INDIAN CONSTI. art. 47.

[7] Standing Committee on Agriculture, 12th report on Food Safety and Standards (2005).

[8] Government of India, GSR 362(E) (May 5, 2011), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare ,

[9] Swami Achyutanand Tirth and Ors v. Union Of India and Ors, 5 August, 2016.

[10]  M/S Omkar Agency and Anr v. The State of Bihar Through The Secretary, 19 July, 2016.

[11] M/S Nestle India Limited v. The Food Safety And Standards, 13 August, 2015.

[12] M/S. Dhariwal Industries Limited v. The State of Maharashtra Anr,, WRIT PETITION NO. 1631 OF 2012

[13] M/s Nestle India Limited v. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and Ors. (Writ Petition (L) No. 1688/2015); Supra Note 11

[14] The Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011.

[15] Whirlpool Corporation v. Enlistment center of Trade imprints, Mumbai and others, AIR 1999 SC 22.

[16] Power of High Courts to issue certain writs.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Supra Note 14.

[19] Functions of Food Analyst.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Functions of the Chief Executive Officer.

[22] Duties and functions of Food Authority.

[23] Ibid.

[24] General principles to be followed in administration of Act.

[25]  Genetically modified foods, organic foods, functional foods, proprietary foods, etc.

[26] Responsibilities of the food business operator.

[27] Authorities responsible for enforcement of the Act.

[28] Commissioner of Food Safety of the State.

[29] Emergency prohibition notices and orders.

[30] Supra Note 28.

[31] C.B.Gautam v. Association of India and Ors, (1993) 1 SCC 78.

[32] Godawat Pan Masala Products I.P. Ltd. v. Association of India and Ors, (2004) 7 SCC 68.

[33] Supra Note 28.

[34] Food Laboratory.

[35] Recognition and accreditation of laboratories, research institutions and referral food laboratory.

[36] Penalty for misbranded food.

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