Report No. 29
Food Adulteration Laws of Some Countries
A list of the laws relating to adulteration of food (food legislation)1 in some of the countries of the world is given below:-
1. Note prepared mainly on the basis of information contained in (a) Food and Agriculture Organization (United Nations) pamphlets relating to "Food Additive Control" in Canada, Denmark, Germany, U.K. and France, and (b) in the Report of the F.A.O. Regional Seminar on Food Legislation for Asia and Far East (27th August to 3rd September, 1962), F.A.O. Report No. 1582 (Rome 1962).
In Australia each State has its own Pure Food Act. But uniformity is secured after the creation of the National Health and Medical Research Council which makes recommendations for uniformity in legislation1.
1. See "Pure Food and Pure Food Legislation"-edited by Amos (Butterworth).
Food and Drugs Act, 1928 is the main law.
The present law in Canada regarding pure food is contained in the Food and Drugs Act, 1953, which is a federal statute. The Department of National Health and Welfare is responsible for the administration of the Act through the Food and Drugs Directorate. The Directorate, besides its headquarters establishment, maintains district and regional offices. High priority is given to activities involving a hazard to health; second priority is given to hygienic violations relating to filth, decomposition of foods etc. and third priority to mere frauds and .other economic violations.
The validity of the Act as falling under "criminal law" has been upheld1.
1. Standard Sausage Co. v. Lee, (1934) 1 DLR 706.
Food and Drugs Act, 1949 is the main law.
As far back as 22nd October, 1701, an Order concerning the Administration of the Police directed that the Commissioner of Police should not permit the offering for sale of food or beverages that were tainted or unwholesome or might cause sickness. Later Ordinances and Regulations covered certain aspects of purity of food. On 1st May, 1860, a Milk Control Order was issued. First law on the examination of food was passed on 9th April, 1891. In 1910 an Act for the examination of food was passed. Subsequent amendments dealt with certain aspects of food purity.
Enforcement of food laws is by the local health authorities, the local public health medical officer, the police, the customs, the National Veterinary Service etc., and the National Control Board for Dairy Products. The National Health Service deals with the subject. A National Food Institute was established under an Act of 5th June, 1959. The Institute is to look after the work of the various laboratories and also have a Central Laboratory for food control and an independent laboratory for food toxicological research.
It is said that England was the first country in the English speaking world to have a separate law for Adulteration of Food in 18601. In fact, in the 15th Century, steps to deal with adulteration of food were initiated not by the Government but by the important Merchant companies of London who managed to obtain official regulations or legislation to check frauds in the particular articles handled by them. In the 18th Century, the excise authorities took interest in the matter and legislation regarding purity of food was enacted in the interest of the revenue. It was the extensive application of the microscope to the examination of food by A.H. Hassall that gave a new turn to the subject. Parliament appointed a Commission to consider the question of adulteration and its report in 1860 led to an Act for the Prevention of Adulteration of articles of Food and Drugs in 1860. The Act of 1875 (Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875) made compulsory the appointment of public analysts by local authorities. Thereafter a number of enactments dealing with special articles of food followed. The main Act now in force is the Food and Drugs Act, 1955 (for England), and it consolidates almost all the previous enactments.
In England, the Food and Drugs Act, 1955 (4 Eliz 2, c. 16) is the main Act dealing with adulteration of food and drugs. The general penal sections are sections 106 and 107 in the 1955 Act. There are certain special punishments provided for in sections 5(3), 18(4), 22(1), 23(1), 23(3), 27(1), 52(4), 55(1), 57(1), 57(3), 59, 60, 69(2), 100(5) and 105(1), 105(3). Certain additional punishments are provided for in sections 8(4), 12(2), 68(3), and Schedule II, paragraph 5.
(There are separate Acts for Scotland etc.)
Duties of administering and enforcing the Act are entrusted to the local "Food and Drugs authorities" i.e. the Common Council of the City of London, the Councils of many larger boroughs and urban districts and the country councils. Each food and drug authority has to appoint a duly qualified public analyst with the approval of the appropriate Minister. Sampling officers are also appointed by these authorities. In matters of general interests of consumers, the Minister of Agriculture and Food may also direct a departmental officer to procure samples. Samples are divided into three parts, one part being given to the seller, the other part being given to the Public Analyst and the third retained for possible future comparison.
The Public Analyst analyses with all due expedition the samples, and gives to the sampling officers a certificate showing the result of the analysis. The seller is entitled to a copy of the certificate on nominal fee. A certificate showing that the sample does not comply with the law does not necessarily lead to a prosecution, as the public health inspector (under whose instructions the sampling officer usually acts) may ask the seller or manufacturer for observations on an adverse report, and the explanation offered may be considered before a prosecution is undertaken.
The decision to take proceedings usually lies with the public health committee or the medical officer of health of the local authority. On the request of a party, the court may cause the retained part of the sample to be sent to the Government Chemist for analysis and his certificate can be used in evidence.
Besides the Act of 1955, the Therapeutic Substances Act, 1956 is also of interest.
1. "Pure Food and Pure Food Legislation"-edited by Amos (Butterworth) (Papers of the 1960 celebrations for centenary of the Act).
The basic law in France is the law of 1st August, 1905 for the prevention of fraudulent practices. The purpose of this law is to check frauds perpetrated in connection with all merchandise, i.e., all deception or attempt at deception intended to mislead the buyer as to essentials. It also provides for checking adulteration of foods, drinks and drugs etc. As early as the year 1268, a Code was drawn up by the trade guilds of Paris containing regulations applicable to producers and dealers of foods. The Code was approved by Provost Etiennee Boileau. Addition of unauthorised seeds injurious to the human body to spices from the East was also prohibited. Fines, confiscation, whipping, pillorying of a vendor of rotten eggs and of the seller of adulterated butter was ordered. A person who sold watered milk was to have a funnel placed in his throat, and the watered milk was to be poured down until a doctor or a barber declared that the man could not swallow any more without danger.
Articles 318, 423 and 475 of the French Penal Code of 1810 contain somewhat scanty provisions regarding adulteration. But, towards the middle of 19th Century, adulteration and falsification of food became increasingly frequent, as fraudulent operators learnt to exploit skilfully the progress made by chemistry to cover their unlawful activities. Numerous international congresses on public health, medicine etc. discussed the question of adulteration of foodstuffs. Ultimately in 1905, it was decided to intensify and centralise the controls of foods, which had been left for long to the mercies of insufficiently skilled municipal officials.
Enforcement of the law is mainly under the charge of the Technical Activities Division of the Ministry of Agriculture whose Inspectors carry out inspection. There are specified contingents whose jurisdiction is nation-wide. They exercise special and very strict control over certain products, such as fruits and vegetables for export, wines, flour, textiles etc. Laboratory service is extensive, consisting of three Government laboratories and about 100 other approved laboratories, the latter doing part-time work for prevention of fraud. There are specialised laboratories for dairy products, wines, fertilizers, seeds, etc. The inspection branch has 270 officials and 110 agents, and about 200 scientific personnel. In addition, in Paris, the Police Department has the Inspection Corps (70 persons) and there is the Paris Municipal Laboratory (25 persons). Control of medicine and drugs is exercised by the pharmacy inspectors; military supplies are checked by special staff; wholesomeness of water is checked by departmental inspectors of public health and so on.
The prejects are responsible for transmitting to the Public Prosecutor files containing reports of violations and official laboratory results indicating frauds, adulteration, or a breach of regulation. The Public Prosecutor may--
(i) file the matter, if there is no offence; or
(ii) place it before the court, if the evidence is sufficient, or
(iii) send it to the Examining Magistrate if further information is necessary or if the party concerned claims the right to submit expert counter-evidence.
Fraud and adulteration are punishable with imprisonment (three months to 2 years) or by fines. Where adulteration is injurious to health, imprisonment is mandatory.
In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Food Act of 1927 and the Colour Act of 1887 are the two main laws; the former has been extensively amended by the Food Act of 21st December, 1958. Various rules (called Ordinances) under the two Acts deal with matters of detail. Apart from the Federal Health Department, the German Research Association (through its Food Additive Commissions) and the Federation of Food Law and Food Science do useful work in preparation of relevant legislation. The German Research Association has done considerable work on food colouring and food preservatives. The Federation for Food Law and Food Science consists of members of major food producing and food trading corporations, and holds a "mediatory" position between the "stringent demands" of the Government and the interests of the food industry.
The Amendment of 1955, section 4(b), sub-section 4 specifically prohibits sale of foods in which there are residues of insecticide, pesticides, herbicides etc. exceeding the maximum permissible amount.
There are institutes financed by the Federal Ministry of Food which analyse food and determine food additives. There are such separate institutes for grain, fish, food products, dairy fat, etc.
Public Health and Urban Service Ordinance, 1960 is the main law.
In addition to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, reference may be made to the Agricultural Products (Grading and Marketing) Act, 1937. The Fruit Products .Order of 1955 and Vegetable Oil Products Control Order also regulate the concerned products.
Main laws are Farm Products Inspection Law, Agricultural Standard Law and Export Inspection Law; Law for the Control of Food and other Articles, 1900; Food Sanitation Law, 1947. Food legislation is administered by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Fraudulent sale in any commodity, including foodstuffs, is dealt with by the Fair Trade Commission under the Anti-Monopoly Law, 1947.
Food Sanitation Law (20th January, 1962), is the main law.
Sale of Food and Drugs Ordinance, 1952 is the main law.