Tightening up

the soft drink episode has apparently made the authorities wise up to the need for hard resolve. On August 26, 2003, the Union ministry of health and family welfare (mohfw) issued a draft notification amending the Prevention of Food Adulteration (pfa) Rules, 1955, to give them more teeth. The proposed changes seek to stringently limit the presence of pesticides and poisonous metals in all types of ready-to-serve beverages.

The draft is now open for public comments. The new standards will come into force after the ministry scrutinises the general reaction, incorporates important suggestions and notifies the norms under pfa. According to an mohfw official, a simultaneous effort is underway to harmonise pfa rules with the Codex Alimentarius Commission guidelines. The commission is the joint body of the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization on food standards.

Quantitative change
Proposed norms to improve quality of beverages

Permissible limits
(in parts per million)

PFA Rules, 19551 New draft notification*2
Pesticide residues No standard 0.0001 (individual)
0.0005 (total)
Lead (in concentrated soft drinks, not including concentrates used to make soft drinks) 0.5 0.01
Copper (in soft drinks, excluding concentrates and carbonated water) 7.0 0.05
Arsenic (in soft drinks intended for consumption after dilution, except carbonated water) 0.5 0.05
Cadmium No standard 0.01
Mercury No standard 0.001
Chromium No standard 0.05
Nickel No standard 0.02
*Note: The new draft notification covers all ready-to-serve beverages
Source: 1) Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, 19th edition, 2003, International Law Book Company, p 170.
2) The Gazette of India, Union ministry of health and family welfare, Notification, New Delhi, August 26, 2003.
A measure of how much stricter the new norms are likely to be (see table: Quantitative change) is underscored by the limits prescribed for lead. Instead of the prevalent 0.5 parts per million (ppm), they are set to be fixed at 0.01 ppm

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