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Safety paramount in food for infants: SC

SC has ruled that the govt is fully empowered to impose suitable conditions for fortified and blended food for lactating mothers and infants.



New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ruled that
the government is fully empowered to impose suitable
conditions, including use of automated machines, for
manufacturing fortified and blended food for lactating mothers
and infants as their safety was paramount.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and SS Nijjar rejected
the plea of an NGO that conditions laid down for manufacturing
food stuffs, by insisting on precise measurements of the
ingredients and machinery to be used, were arbitrary.

"The supplier is required to provide a fine mix of all
kinds of ingredients, including the revised intake of proteins
and calories, to the precise level. In fact, the level of
precision is earmarked for each kind of food.

"The procedure adopted is necessary to ensure that there
is zero infection in the food which is going to be consumed by
infants and the children who are already under nourished.”

"It cannot be over emphasised that, since the
beneficiaries of the `Dense Energy Food and Fortified Blended
Mixture` are infants from the age group of 6 months to 3 years
and pregnant and lactating mothers, it was all the more
desirable to have fully automated plants. Such procedure
avoids the use of human hands in processes like handling,
cleaning, grinding, extrusion, mixing etc, all of which are
done automatically," Justice Nijjar writing the judgement
said.

The apex court passed the judgement dismissing the appeal
of Shagun Mahila Udyogik Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit challenging
certain conditions imposed by the Maharashtra Government for
allotting contracts in the production of food under the
national "Integrated Child Development Scheme"(ICDS).

The Government had insisted that the manufacturers must
possess certain specific automated machines and a minimum
turnover of Rs one crore for the three preceding years to make
them eligible for the contract.

"Therefore, the condition of asking for minimum Rs 1
crore turnover for the last three years cannot be said to be
arbitrary. In fact, the condition would be of utmost
importance.

"We are also not impressed by the submission of Mr
Rohtagi (counsel) that the condition of having Rs 1 crore over
the three previous consecutive years, is either arbitrary or
whimsical.

"We are also of the considered opinion that the food,
which is to be supplied to the recipients as a part of the
supplementary nutrition programme has to be prepared in the
manner prescribed by the Government for safety and nutrient
composition of the food. It cannot be left to uncertainties
of the machinery available with individual manufacturers," the
bench said.

The apex court said the Bombay High Court had rightly
concluded that the appellant was not considered for the
contract since it did not fulfil the norms.

"The successful supplier is duty bound to necessarily
comply with all the specifications laid down by the
Government in its norms.

"Since the appellant did not possess a suitable
manufacturing unit, the appellant would be rendered ineligible
on this score alone," the bench added.

PTI

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