Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) officials will be able to penalise those guilty of violating their rules, after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, 2006, is implemented from the first week of August.
“As per the current act—Prevention of Food Adulteration — every minor offence is to be resolved in court, which leads to time wastage. Also, sometimes it is tough to prove cases in court,” said Suresh Deshmukh, joint commissioner (Food), Maharashtra.
“But as per the new act, offences are categorised as per their gravity. The offences to be fined will be handled by our office and serious offences such as the sale of unsafe food, which involves prison time, will be handled by the court,” he added.
According to the new act, citizens can ask for compensation from the food retailer if consumption of food results in death or health complications. The maximum compensation that can be demanded is Rs10 lakh.
According to Deshmukh, the new act will quicken the process of inspection and punishment. An adjudicating officer will be appointed for every district that judges the cases under the penalty category.
“After inspecting a food outlet, the food safety officer will have to submit a food sample for testing, on the next working day.
The test reports will have to be submitted within 14 days unlike the current provision of 40 days.
The adjudicating officer will act as a judge, listen to the concerned parties and will have to pass a judgment within 90 days of the first hearing,” added Deshmukh.
A meeting of food safety commissioners of all the states and union territories on the implementation of the new act is currently going on in Delhi.