The Kerala High Court has called upon the Commissioner of Food Safety to respond to a petition seeking action against the use of uncoated papers and newsprints for packaging food at restaurants. Justice Devan Ramachandran emphasized the vital role of the Food Commissioner in ensuring public health and safety, particularly in restaurants, regardless of their prestige.
Urgency Due to Pandemic Justice Ramachandran highlighted the increased distribution of food parcels during the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of specific instructions regarding safe food packaging. The judge deemed the matter of grave public concern, warranting immediate attention.
Petition Background The petition, filed by Nebu Thomas Cherian, proprietor of Anna Polymers, a compostable paper plate manufacturer, alleges widespread violations of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) and the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulations in Kerala. These violations involve the use of non-food grade, non-grease-proof papers for food packaging, even for oily snacks served on newsprint papers.
Concerns and Legal Obligations The petitioner argues that non-compliance with food safety standards allows unscrupulous manufacturers to use unsuitable materials for food packaging, potentially jeopardizing public health and the environment. The petition emphasizes the duty of the Kerala Commissioner of Food Safety to enforce FSSA 2006 and the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulations of 2018.
Violation of Regulations and Constitutional Rights Furthermore, the petition contends that certain manufacturers persist in bypassing the ban on single-use plastic products coated with wax, violating the Plastic Waste Management Rules. This not only endangers public health but also infringes upon the petitioner’s rights as a legal manufacturer adhering to prescribed regulations, violating Article 21 and Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
The case is set to be heard again on September 25, with the petitioner seeking a directive for the enforcement of FSSA 2006 and the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulations, 2018.
The petitioner was represented by advocates Sneha MS, G Hariharan, Praveen H, KS Smitha, TT Shaniba, and Amal Dev D.