Food Act set to get more teeth

Published On: June 27, 2016 02:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 27: The government is making amendment to Food Act 1966 to discourage adulteration and black-marketing of food commodities, among others.
It has proposed to increase punishment against wrongdoers by up to 20 fold.

Speaking at an interaction on proposed amendments to Food Act, 1966 organized by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Sanjeev Kumar Karna, director general of Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC), said amendment was being made to make the crucial law updated. “We have proposed increasing punishment against wrongdoers by up to 20 times,” Karna Said.

DoFTQC is preparing to send the amendment draft to the cabinet for endorsement very soon.

The prevailing Food Act, 1966 has prescribed a fine from Rs 50 to Rs 25,000 and imprisonment of three months to three years for the offenders. Similarly, it requires the offenders to provide compensation of up to Rs 100,000 to the victims.

“We are hopeful that increment in fine and jail term will discourage unscrupulous traders which will ultimately help to maintain food quality in the market,” added Karna.  
The draft proposes giving the sole authority of taking action against individuals or institutions flouting Food Act to the Director General of DoFTQC.

As per the existing laws, such action can be taken only after consulting with Chief District Officer of concerned districts.

The amendment draft has defined 'food' as human beings eat or drink, except tobacco products, cosmetics and medicine.

Meanwhile, private sector has urged the government to make sure that the amendments are industry-friendly. “The government has the tendency of endorsing policies and laws without consulting with the service providers,” Umesh Lal Shrestha, chairman of Industry Committee of FNCCI, said, adding: “It is good to know that the government is making amendments to the Food Act. The government and food producers should sit together and discuss on the proposed amendments.”    

Speaking at the interaction, Dinesh Shrestha, vice president of FNCCI, emphasized the need to recognize private sector as a partner of development. “Government laws and policies have to be industry-friendly so that country's development takes pace. The government should invite private sector for discussions and incorporate their feedbacks in policies and laws,” added Shrestha.

On the occasion, stakeholders also urged the government to bring food policy. 

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