Gujarat Govt Lacks the Technical Capability to Verify ‘veg’ Label on Food: HC

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Shri Mumbai Jeevdaya Mandli asserted in the Gujarat high court that the Gujarat government has not mentioned any facility to ascertain whether the ‘green dot’ on a food packet guaranteeing vegetarian content is perfect. It was noted that even the basic criteria required for the standard procedure to test food items have not been fixed till date.

As per existing rules, specific symbols and color codes have been defined by law and are affixed for packaged food so that consumers know that a green-labeled product is pure vegetarian food.

However, the Gujarat high court on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with the state government and the Centre at the lack of a facility to test if a food sample is actually proper vegetarian food as labeled and sought “comprehensive and detailed” answers over the same.

Products certified with the ‘Green Label’ should have no non-veg element or content, including eggs and egg flakes from any animal source. The HC sought affidavits on whether the state has adequate infrastructure to undertake all relevant Food Safety Standard tests and then certify that products with the ‘Green label’.

The PIL submitted by the petitioners demands the implementation of provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011 — Packaging and Labelling. The PIL also seeks Gujarat High Court directions to the government to “act urgently and periodically by obtaining samples of food items from the open market, and doing inspections periodically at regular intervals and to carry out tests”. Furthermore, the PIL inquires for information on the number of prosecutions launched by the government for criminal cases in which food products were misbranded or mislabeled, such as those products which were sold as ‘vegetarian’ even though they definitively contained ingredients that were non-vegetarian.

Advocate N. M. Kapadia, submitted that the Supreme Court and the Delhi high court have stated in previous verdicts, that every person has a right to know whether a product is a vegetarian or non-vegetarian food which stems from the constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen to know and to protect his religious rights.

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