Keep industry insiders out of food safety panel: SC

Inclusion unlawful as it brings with it a conflict of interest


Deevakar Anand | February 8, 2011

The Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSA) undertook before the court that a new panel sans industry insiders will be constituted to look into harmful effects of soft drinks, after the supreme court on Tuesday deemed it illegal. The court observed that Section 13 (I) of the act categorically provides for an independent experts panel under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

The bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma made the comment when the petitioner, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) through its lawyer Prashant Bhusan pointed out that the existing expert committee on food safety have on its board Joseph I Lewis of Marico Limited, Sunil Absule from Coca Cola and Sharminder Pal Singh from Pepsi Co among others.

Bhusan argued that the panel has not been functioning since 2008 and underlined the detriment representatives from the industry, with their own interests, have caused to the functioning of the panel. The petition has sought disclosure of ingredients being used in edible products and soft drinks and the harmful effects on the consumers. The court will be informed about the studies carried out on the chemical content of soft drinks and their harmful effects on the consumers, the FSSA assured.

The bench also allowed CPIL to file a comprehensive representation with their recommendations and suggestions which will be considered by the new panel and if necessary personal hearing is to be given.



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