India’s food regulator has been asked to pay a compensation of Rs 2,000 to a RTI for failing to admit that the country does not have safety standards for trans fats in ghee and edible oil.
Right To Information activist KS Swami wanted to know whether the National Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has prescribed any safe percentage of trans fats in ghee and edible oil.
Some western nations such as Denmark have prescribed 2% of trans fats in products as a safe limit. A study conducted by Centre for Science and Environment had showed that most of trusted edible oil brands contain unhealthy levels of trans fat and it is 12 times higher than which is permissible in Netherlands in Vanaspati ghee.
Swami filed an RTI application in July 2011 asking the authority whether they have instructed the manufacturers of ghee and edible oils to exhibit the safe percentage of trans fats on the packets along with its actual percentage.
Instead of giving a direct reply to the questions, the authority provided a few paras of its labeling regulation which said to claim that a product was trans fats fee may be used only if it was less than 0.2 gram per serving of food.
Unhappy with the reply, Swami filed an appeal with CIC which found the authority deliberately avoiding admission of no safety standard for trans fats. “If the authority has taken no steps about specifying the safe level of trans fats percentages in ghee and edible oils they should at least admit this,” Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said in his order.
Noting that harassment of a common man was “socially abhorring” and “legally impermissible”, Gandhi said awarding a compensation (of Rs 2,000) to an individual satisfies him personally and helps in improving work culture.
The CIC has also issued a notice to authority’s public information officer of imposing penalty blaming him for not furnishing complete information.