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Food laws and Standards


The Government of India is fully aware to the possibilities of food being adulterated. It has therefore, empowered several agencies and promulgated a number of acts and orders to contract the menace. Agencies and institutions have also been created to lay down standards for the quality of foods. The manner in which the food is processed and packaged is also covered by a number of regulations. Following measures have been taken by the government to control the quality of food.

Prevention of food adulteration act

One of the early acts to be promulgated in this connection was the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954, which has been in force since June 1,1955. The objective of this act was to ensure that food articles sold to the customers are pure and wholesome. It also intended to prevent fraud or deception and encourages fair trade practices. The act was amended in 1964 and again in 1976 in the light of experience gained, to plug loopholes of escape in the Act and to insure stringent punishment for those indulging in this nefarious practice.

The Act prohibits the manufacture, sale and distribution of not only adulterated foods but also foods contaminated with toxicants and misbranded foods. A Central Food Laboratory located at Calcutta and the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore has also been recognized for testing of adulterated foods. "A central committee for food standards" has been constituted under the Act and has been charged with the function of advising the Central Government on matters relating to the Food standards.

According to the Act, 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 and as it is represented to be.
  2. If it contains any other substance or processed as to affect injuriously the nature.
  3. If any inferior or cheaper substance has been substituted wholly or in part for the article.
  4. If the article had been prepared, packed or kept under unsanitary conditions whereby it has become contaminated or injurious to health;
  5. If the article consists of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance or is insect-infested or otherwise unit for human consumption.
  6. If the article is obtained from a diseased animal;
  7. If the article contains any poisonous or other ingredient which renders its contents injurious to health;
  8. If the container of the article is composed of any poisonous or deleterious substance which renders it contents injurious to health;
  9. If any colouring matter other than as prescribed and in amounts not within the prescribed limits of variability is present in the article;
  10. If the article contains any prohibited preservative or permitted preservative in excess of the prescribed limits;
  11. If the quality or purity of the article falls below the prescribed standard or its constituents are present in quantities, which are in excess of the prescribed limits of variability.

Administrative hierarchy

The Food Health Authority is appointed at state level who is the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. He is responsible for the good quality and standards of foods available to the consumers.

Under FHA are the Local Health Authority (LHA). There is a Local Health Authority appointed in each city in every state.

The food Inspector is appointed by the Central or State Government by notification in official gazette. The Food Inspector undergoes a three months training in food inspection and sampling.

Powers of food inspectors

1. To take sample of any food article from

  • Any person selling such article.

  • Any person who is in the course of delivering or preparing to deliver such article to a purchaser or consignee.

  • A consignee after delivering of any such article to him.

2. To send such sample for analysis to the Public Analyst (PA) of local area.

Fruit Products Order

The Government of India promulgated a Fruit Products order in 1946. In 1955, the order was revised. The Fruit Products Order (FPO) lays down statutory minimum standards in respect of the quality of various fruits and vegetable products and processing facilities.The FPO and PFA, are enforced by the Department of Health.

Meat products order

It provides means to:

  1. Detect and destroy meat of diseased animals.
  2. Ensure that the preparation and handling of meat and meat products be conducted in a clean and sanitary manner.
  3. Prevent the use of harmful substances in meat roods.
  4. See that every cut of meat is inspected before sale to ensure its wholesomeness.

The order also lays down rules and conditions for procedure to be adopted for the selection of disease-free animals, slaughterhouse practices.

Cold storage order

The cold storage order, 1980, promulgated under the Essential commodities Act, 1955, has the objective of ensuring hygienic and proper refrigeration conditions in a cold store, regulating the growth of cold storage industry and rendering technical guidance for a the scientific preservation of food stuffs.


I.S.I. Standards

Various committees, including representatives from the government, consumers and industry, formulate the Indian Standards Institution (ISI). Standards are laid for vegetable and fruit products, spices and condiments, animal products and processed foods.

The products are checked for quality by the ISI in their own network of testing laboratories at Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Chandigarh and Patna or in a number of public and private laboratories recognized by them.

The AGMARK Standard

The AGMARK standard was set up by the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection of the Government of India by introducing an Agricultural produce Act in 1937. The word ‘AGMARK’ seal ensures quality and purity. A sample AGMARK seal is as below


SL.NO. B-162002





The quality of a product is determined with reference to the size, variety, weight, colour, moisture, fat content and other factors are taken into account. The grades incorporated are grades 1,2,3 and 4 or special, good, fair and ordinary.

Export inspection council

The council has been constituted to check the quality of a number of food materials meant for export. The council has powers to reject any food, which does not measure up to the standards prescribed for the food. Canned food such as mango juice, pineapple juice, frozen food such as shrimp, pomfrets are subject to scrutiny by this body before export.

Ag. Technologies
(Food Technology)