New Delhi: Laws to prevent food and milk adulteration will be made more stringent and a task force set up to revisit the current legislation has been asked to give its report in 45 days, Health Minister J P Nadda informed Lok Sabha on Monday.
"We propose to comprehensively review the Food Safety and Standards Act, Rules and Regulations to address the concerns of courts in matters relating to food adulteration and the numerous representation received from food business operators.
"It is also proposed to revisit the punishment stipulated for milk adulteration and make it more stringent," Nadda said, responding to Calling Attention by P V Midhun Reddy (YSR Cong) and Satyapal Singh (BJP).
Amid concerns voiced by law-makers over the "slow poison" in the form of food adulteration, unregulated use of pesticides and antibiotics, especially in poultry products, Nadda termed it as "serious health hazard" and said government will strengthen manpower and infrastructure to tackle the challenge.
"Time has come to revisit current laws. Two days ago, we formed a task force. It will give its report in 45 days," he said, adding that a mechanism has to be developed which is continuous so that it could deal with the problem even as new means of adulteration are reported.
Noting the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD), he said contaminated food items are a reason behind it.
The poor implementation of the existing Food Safety and Standards Act was also a problem, Nadda said, blaming state governments for it.
Reddy and Singh said almost everything consumed by people from water to milk and food products were contaminated. They expressed concern over the use of oxytocin injection to make cows produce more milk and demanded swift action to curb the menace.
Nadda said 13,571 out of 72,200 food samples analysed in 2013-14 were adulterated, resulting in launch of 10,325 civil and criminal cases, and assured the House that the government was committed to curb what Singh described as a "crime with humanity".