Last Updated on September 3, 2021 by The Health Master
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction at the unavailability of a facility to test if food bought from the market is proper vegetarian food and sought “comprehensive and detailed” answers from the state government and the Centre over the rules for applying symbols and colour codes for packaged food to know if a green labelled product is pure vegetarian food.
The HC sought affidavits on a “more serious question” — whether the state and its agencies or laboratories have adequate infrastructure and wherewithal to undertake all relevant Food Safety Standard tests and then certify that products with the ‘Green label’, believed to have no non-veg element or content, include eggs and egg flakes from any animal source.
The petitioner, Mumbai Jivdaya Mandali, has been asserting that the government has not mentioned any facility to ascertain whether the ‘green dot’ on a food packet is perfect. Criteria have not been fixed as to how to test food items.
Its advocate, N M Kapadia, submitted that the Supreme Court and the Delhi high court have said that a person has a right to know whether a product is vegetarian or non-vegetarian food.
It is a constitutional right of every citizen to know and to protect his religious rights. There is no facility in Gujarat to verify the green label on a food package.
At the HC’s query, the government counsel submitted that he would have to get instructions about the full facilities available for analysis of food products, with the approved laboratories for ingredients as well as additives.
The PIL demands implementation of provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, to ascertain whether any green labelled food item contains any non-vegetarian ingredient.
It seeks HC directions to the government to “act urgently and periodically by obtaining samples of food items from the open market, and doing inspections periodically at regular intervals and to carry out tests”.
The PIL is also seeking information from the government on how many prosecutions have been instituted for cases of misbranding of food products, which were sold as vegetarian though they contained non-vegetarian ingredients.
The court has posted a further hearing for September 29.