Should the trans fat contents in food items be put on the labels?
The appellant has been trying to enforce certain standards as regards Ghee and Edible oils in India relying on studies that have shown that trans fats are harmful to health. He referred to the standard implemented by Denmark which has specified an upper limit of 2% trans fats as being safe.
He wanted to know whether the safe percentage of Trans fats in Ghee and Edible oils etc. has been determined; whether the manufactures of Ghee and edible oils have been instructed to exhibit the safe percentage of Trans fats on their packets along with actual percentage of trans fats on their products; and if the safe percentage of Trans fats in Ghee and edible oils has not been determined, what steps have been taken to determine the safe percentage of Trans Fats. The Food safety and standards authority of India asked the appellant to consult National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal / Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi or any other dairy research institutes to know the safe percentage of trans fats in ghee and edible oils.
View of the CIC
The Appellant referred to a notification GSR no. 664(E) of 19/09/2008 vide which it was required to declare trans fat content which was subsequently modified by a corrigendum dated 27/02/2009. It was pointed out that the work related to fixing the safe limits to be prescribed for trans fats in food products had been given to Food Safety and Standard Authority of India. The Commission expressed its displeasure over the fact that the PIO has not provided simple information sought by the Appellant. If the Food Satety and Standard Authority of India has not taken any steps about specifying the safe level trans fats percentages in Ghee and Edible Oil they should at least admit this. Holding that the PIO has not furnished the complete information within the time specified under Section 7 (1) as per the requirement of the RTI Act, the Commission directed to provide the complete information as per available records free of cost. For the loss and detriment suffered by the appellant in pursuing the appeal and not yet getting the information, the Commission awarded Rs. 2000/- as compensation while issuing a show cause notice for imposition of penalty under Section 20 (1).
This case shows that a public spirited person can use the RTI Act for forcing a public authority to act as per the duty charter entrusted to it.
Citation: Mr. K. K.Swami v. Food safety and standards authority of India in file no. CIC/SG/A/2011/003539
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/105
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