India Supreme Court Requests Removal of Industry Reps from Safety Enforcement Panels
Ruling on a request by a non-governmental organization (NGO), two supreme
court justices in India have reportedly asked the government to remove
food and soft drink company representatives from food-safety standards and
enforcement panels. According to the justices, the industry representation
clearly breaches the mandate of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Under the law, government panel members must be independent scientific
experts who may consult with the food industry and consumers before
adopting standards regulating the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale,
and import of food products.
The NGO had reportedly sought a scientific investigation into the contents
of soft drink beverages, claiming that their consumption is a major cause
of adolescent obesity. An industry spokesperson apparently responded by
calling obesity a rich man’s problem in a country where more than a third
of the population lives below the poverty line. He cited the Indian Council
for Medical Research, which stated, “[A]vailable literature does not clearly
establish a direct cause and harmful effect relationship between consumption
of carbonated beverages and its effects on human health.” See The Times of
India, February 9, 2011.