India: Right to unadulterated food is linked to Constitution

fruit_vegetable_market_blogIndia’s Supreme Court ruled last week that the right to safe, unadulterated food is enshrined within the constitution.

The ruling came as part of a case involving the effect of soft drinks on health, especially the health of children, the New Indian Express reports. Among other items, the court’s ruling states that existing regulations must be effectively implemented so as to “(safeguard) the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India” and that “…any food article which is hazardous or injurious to public health is a potential danger to the fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.

The judges directed the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India to devote additional resources work with their counterpart agencies across the country to “conduct periodical inspections and monitoring of major fruits and vegetable markets” to ensure they adhere to established standards, the ruling states.

In part, the ruling asserted:

“Enjoyment of life and its attainment, including right to life and human dignity encompasses, within its ambit availability of articles of food, without insecticides or pesticides residues, veterinary drugs residues, antibiotic residues, solvent residues, etc. But the fact remains, many of the food articles like rice, vegetables, meat, fish, milk, fruits available in the market contain insecticides or pesticides residues, beyond the tolerable limits, causing serious health hazards. We notice, fruit based soft drinks available in various fruit stalls, contain such pesticides residues in alarming proportion, but no attention is made to examine its contents. Children and infants are uniquely susceptible to the effects of pesticides because of their physiological immaturity and greater exposure to soft drinks, fruit based or otherwise.”

Earlier this month, officials in Ahmedabad (located in Gujarat, in western India) sent 20 teams of food inspectors to monitor for adulterated products in advance of Diwali celebrations next week. Other reports have indicated adulterated food in India is on the rise.

Adulterated food has become an increasing concern globally, especially in the wake of the horse meat incident earlier this year in the United Kingdom and Europe.

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