Prevention of Food Adulteration Act

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act

What is Food adulteration?

  • Generally, if a food contains a poisonous or deleterious substance that may render it injurious to health, it is considered to be adulterated.
  • When the food fails to meet the legal standards set by the government, it is said to have beenĀ Adulterated Food.
  • Adulteration refers to addition of any contaminants into food items or beverages in order to increase the quantity and decrease the price of the commodity. Adulteration is a legal offence.
  • Addition of another substance to a food item may be in raw form or prepared form, which results in the loss of actual quality of food item. These substances may be either available food items or non-food items.
  • The adulteration results in poor quality of food and leads to serious illnesses in both humans and animals.

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA)

  • The Government of India approved the Food Adulteration Committee in 1943. After the recommendation by committee to central legislation, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) came into force in 1954. This act extends to all over the India and came into effect from June 15th, 1955.
  • The Act regulates the use of chemicals, pesticides, flavours and other additives in food preparation and, provides the protection from adulteration or contamination of food that may lead to the health risk of consumers. Enrichment of flour, bread, or other cereals with vitamins or minerals, iodization of salt, vitaminisation of vanaspati oil, addition of vitamin “C” in certain foods can be done under the provision made in this Act.
  • Section-2 of the Act define food, adulteration, misbranding, etc. while, under section-3, centre is empowered to appoint an Advisory committee called the Central Committee for Food Standard. In any dispute an adulterated sample need to be examined by the court. The Central Food Laboratories give its final opinion on the subject.
  • Powers are also given to the State Governments to appoint Public Analyst and Food Inspectors who control the food supply, storage, and marketing of foods. It is the duty of inspector to draw and dispatch samples to a laboratory.
  • The Central Government is empowered to define the standards of quality, control over production, distribution and sale of food, packing, labelling, licensing, and controlling the food additives.

Provision of penalty

  • If a vendor breaks the law for the first time, he/she can get imprisonment for 6 months to 1 year or can be fined with Rs.2000 which may extend to 6 years and cancellation of license on the second or subsequent offense.
  • There is a penalty for violation of rules with regard to seized article subsequently found adulterated and/or contaminated with injurious substances.
  • When consumed adulterated food is likely to cause death or injury to the body or amount to grievous hurt can be punished according to Section 320 of the Indian Penal Code.

Role of Central Government

The Ministry of Health & family welfare is responsible for ensuring sea food to the consumers. The enforcement of the Act is done by the state/UT governments. The roles are:

  • To review the provision of PFA Act, 1954, Rules and Standards in consultation with the central committee for Food Standards, a statutory Advisory Committee under the Act and its 9 Technical Sub-committees.
  • To conduct examination for the Chemists for their appointment as Public Analyst under the Act;
  • To organise training programme for various functionaries under the Act;
  • To approve the State PFA Rules;
  • To examine and approve the labels of Infant foods.
  • To evaluate and monitor progress of implementation of the Act in the state/UTs by collecting periodical reports and spot visits;
  • To liaise with National and International Food Quality Control Organisation, Ministry of Food Processing Industries (implementing Fruits Products Order-FPO), Codes Alimentarius Commission/World Trade Organisation;
  • To ensure quality of food imported to India under the provision of Act;
  • To create consumer awareness; and
  • To augment the food testing laboratories.


Food Items

Adulteration/ Contamination


Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Non-permitted colours, Saccharin, ducin, lead, arsenic and copper, and Dirt and filth.


Baking powder

Citric acid


Starchy foods

Foreign starches in arrowroot, sand, dirt, etc.



Sand, grit, coal tar dyes, saw dust, lead or lead chromate in haldi, In shah zeera excessive stalky and woody matter.


Coffee and Tea

Coat tar dyes, excessive stuff, husk, tamarik husk, sand and grit, used tea dust.



Water, Starch ad abstraction of fat.



Animal fat, excessive hydrogenation Rancid stuff. Sesame oil deficiency, foreign flavour.


Mustard seed

Argemone seeds which can cause epidemic dropsy.



Mineral oil potential carcinogenic, argimone oil.



Khesari dal which can cause lathyrism coal tar dyes.



Aflatoxin can cause cirrhosis of liver



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