A bill to create a regulatory body for the food processing sector and set standards for regulating manufacture and import of quality food on Wednesday received Parliamentary nod, with Rajya Sabha passing the measure.
The Food Safety and Standards Bill, 2005 was passed by a voice vote. The Bill had earlier been approved by the Lok Sabha.
Besides aiming to end the Inspector Raj in the sector, the legislation empowers consumers to lift the sample of any suspected food item available in the market and send it to the laboratory for testing.
Replying to a debate, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai said farmers, fishermen and small vendors have been kept out of the purview of the legislation.
"I can assure you that they will not be harassed," he said after opposition members expressed fears that the legislation could affect small vendors and farmers.
The Bill fixes a fine up to Rs ten lakh for food inspectors found using unfair means, the Minister said.
It envisaged creating a single regulatory body for the entire food processing sector as the nation was losing a whopping Rs 50,000 crore annually owing to lack of adequate infrastructure in this sector, Sahai said.
"India should be the BPO and resource centre for food and processing industry," he said.