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An Overview of Food Laws in India

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Food laws in India are primarily governed by the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and the regulations framed under this act. The objective of these laws is to regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import of food products to ensure their safety and quality. If you want to establish any food related business, then the knowledge about these laws and regulations is essential.

Food Laws in India

Some of the food laws in India are as follows:

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

FSSAI is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing and implementing food safety standards in India. It formulates regulations, sets standards, and licenses food businesses.

Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

This is the central legislation that provides the legal framework for regulating food safety and standards in India. It covers various aspects of food safety, including the manufacture, storage, distribution, and sale of food products.

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA), 1954

Although the PFA Act has largely been replaced by the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, some provisions may still be relevant in certain cases. The PFA Act primarily focused on preventing the adulteration of food products and regulating food quality.

Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011

These regulations outline the licensing and registration requirements for food businesses under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011

These regulations specify the labeling and packaging requirements for various food products, including information on ingredients, nutritional facts, allergens, and more.

Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins, and Residues) Regulations, 2011

These regulations set limits for various contaminants, toxins, and residues that may be present in food products.

Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011

These regulations establish specific standards for different categories of food products, including dairy, meat, fish, and more.

Meat Food Products Order, 1973

This order governs the processing and sale of meat and meat products in India. It includes provisions related to hygiene, sanitation, and labeling of meat products.

Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992

This order regulates the production and distribution of milk and milk products, with a focus on quality standards and safety.

Fruit Products Order, 1955

This order covers the processing and marketing of fruit products, including fruit juices and preserves. It sets standards for the quality of fruit products.

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)

BIS has developed various standards for food products, including those related to packaged drinking water, packaged foods, and food additives.

State-Specific Regulations

In addition to national regulations, different states in India may have their own food safety and hygiene regulations and guidelines.

Export and Import Regulations

Food products intended for export or import must comply with specific regulations, including inspections and certifications to ensure compliance with international standards.

The Pure Food Act, 1906

Although outdated, this was one of the earliest legislations in India related to food safety and quality.

The Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947

The Vegetable Oil Products Control Order, 1947 was published vide Notification Gazette of India, (Extraordinary), vide Notification No. 2, V.P. (2) 41, dated 19.8.1947.

Know more about this act.

The Solvent Extracted Oil, De- oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967

The Order is basically a quality control order to ensure that the solvent extracted oils in particular are not reached to the consumers for consumption before the same are refined and conformed to the quality standards specified in the Order for the purpose. Standards for the solvent (hexane), which is to be used for extraction of oil from the oil-bearing materials, have also been specified so as to eliminate possible contamination of oil from the solvent used.

Salient Features of this order are as follows:

1) Governs the manufacture, quality and movement of solvent extracted oils, de-oiled meal and edible flour;
2) Consumer protection through quality assurance of solvent extracted oils, de-oiled meal and edible flour;
3) Eliminates the possibility of diversion of the oils for uses not intended.
4) Prohibit by, offer to buy, use or stock for use, any solvent not conforming to the quality standards for extraction of vegetable oils, and Specifies particulars to be declared on the label affixed to the container.

The Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998

In order to ensure availability of safe and quality edible oils in packed form at pre-determined prices to the consumers, the Central Govt. promulgated on 17th September, 1998, an Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998 under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to make packaging of edible oils, sold in retail, compulsory unless specifically exempted by the concerned State Govt.

Salient Features

(1) Edible oils including edible mustard oil will be allowed to be sold only in packed form from 15th December, 1998.
(2) Packers will have to register themselves with a registering authority.
(3) The packer will have to have his own analytical facilities or adequate arrangements for testing the samples of edible oils to the satisfaction of the Government.
(4) Only oils which conform to the standards of quality as specified in the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and Rules made there under will be allowed to be packed.
(6) Each container or pack will have to show all relevant particulars so that the consumer is not misled, so also the identity of the packer becomes clear.
(7) Edible oils shall be packed in conformity with the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977, and the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and Rules made there under.
(8) The State Governments will have power to relax any requirement of the packaging order for meeting special circumstances.

Know more about this order.

Main Features of Food Laws in India

Food Safety and Standards Regulations

FSSAI has framed numerous regulations under the Food Safety and Standards Act to specify detailed standards and guidelines for different categories of food products. These regulations cover various aspects, including labeling, packaging, additives, contaminants, and hygiene standards.

Food Licensing and Registration

Under the FSSAI regulations, food businesses must obtain licenses or registrations, depending on the scale and nature of their operations. This is to ensure that food businesses comply with safety and quality standards.

Food Product Standards

FSSAI has established specific standards for various food products to ensure their quality and safety. These standards cover a wide range of products, including dairy, meat, beverages, packaged foods, and more.

Food Labeling

Food labeling regulations require manufacturers to provide accurate information on labels, including ingredients, nutritional information, allergen declarations, and expiry dates.

Food Additives and Contaminants

Regulations specify permissible levels of food additives and maximum limits for contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, and microbiological parameters.

Food Imports

The import of food products into India is subject to specific regulations and quality checks to ensure that imported food complies with Indian food safety standards.

Food Sampling and Testing

Food safety officials conduct regular inspections, sampling, and testing of food products to check for compliance with safety and quality standards.

Food Recall and Enforcement

If a food product is found to be unsafe or does not meet the specified standards, FSSAI has the authority to order product recalls and take legal action against violators.

Food Hygiene and Safety Practices

Food establishments are required to maintain hygienic conditions and follow safe food handling practices to prevent contamination and foodborne illnesses.

Food Safety Training and Awareness

FSSAI promotes training and awareness programs to educate food businesses and consumers about food safety practices.

It’s essential for food businesses in India to understand and comply with these food laws and regulations to ensure the safety and quality of food products. Non-compliance can result in penalties, product recalls, and legal action. Consumers are also encouraged to be aware of food labeling and safety standards when purchasing food products. Please note that regulations and standards may evolve over time, so it’s advisable to refer to the latest guidelines and consult with relevant authorities or experts for the most up-to-date information on food laws in India.

It’s important to note that food laws and regulations may change over time, and compliance with the latest standards is crucial for food businesses and consumers alike. Food businesses should keep abreast of any updates or changes in regulations to ensure they are operating within the legal framework. Consulting with legal experts or regulatory authorities can also provide guidance on specific food laws and regulations applicable to a particular type of food business.


Food laws in India are primarily governed by the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, along with various associated regulations and orders. These laws are designed to ensure the safety, quality, and proper labeling of food products throughout their production, distribution, and sale. Additionally, there are state-specific regulations and standards, as well as specific orders governing products like meat, milk, and fruit.

Compliance with these food laws is essential for businesses to operate legally and maintain the safety and trust of consumers. Regular updates and amendments to these regulations may occur, so staying informed about the latest standards and consulting with relevant authorities or experts are crucial steps for both food businesses and consumers to ensure the highest standards of food safety and quality in India.

Read more: Food License and FSSAI Registration Process in India

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Rajesh Pant
Rajesh Pant
My name is Rajesh Pant. I am M. Tech. (Civil Engineering) and M. B. A. (Infrastructure Management). I have gained knowledge of contract management, procurement & project management while I handled various infrastructure projects as Executive Engineer/ Procurement & Contract Management Expert in Govt. Sector. I also have exposure of handling projects financed by multi-lateral organizations like the World Bank Projects. During my MBA studies I developed interest in management concepts.
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