Adulteration of food is an age-old problem. Though it consists of a number of practices, it can be defined as deliberate mixing or substitution of food material with low quality, undesirable, inedible and even toxic materials.
As a result of adulteration the consumer suffers in two ways. First they pay more money for food stuff of lower quality and second, adulteration is injurious to health and even results in death. Food adulteration is a widespread social evil. The general public, the traders and the food inspector are all in the same way responsible for this menace.
For example, adulteration of mustard oil with argemone oil results in a serious disease called dropsy. Arhar dal is mixed with Khesari dal which causes lathyrism, a crippling disease characterised by paralysis of the leg. Turmeric is often mixed with a toxic substance lead chromate as both are yellow in colour and leads to stiffness of limbs, paralysis and even brain damage.
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act
The Government of India enacted the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act in 1954 subsequently amended in 1964, 1976 and 1986. This Act was enacted with the objective of ensuring pure and wholesome food to the consumer and protecting the consumer from fraudulent and deceptive trade practices.
The Government has set up following institutions for laying minimum standards for preventing adulteration and maintaining the availability of good quality food materials to the public.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a principal body of the joint FAO and WHO Food standards programme, formulates food standards for the international market. In India the food standards are based on Codex Alimentarius Standards.
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act Standards
PFA standards have been developed to obtain a minimum level of quality of food under Indian conditions.
The Agmark standards are set by the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection of the Government of India. This label gives an assurance of quality to the consumers
Food Safety And Standards Authority of India
In order to bring clarity in forward legislation and authorities a single act that is Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 was enacted on 23rd of August 2006. Rules and functions of FSSAI included registration of food products standards, licensing and food additive packaging and labelling laboratories and sampling analysis, etc., which stopped the food adulteration practices in India.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
The ISI mark on food articles is a guarantee of food quality in accordance with the standards laid down by the BIS.