The Kerala High Court recently while dealing with a Writ Petition, seeking action against food restaurants and outlets employing substandard materials for packaging food articles, sought the Commissioner of Food Safety's assistance and specifically directed the Commissioner to approach the matter not as adversarial litigation but in the best interest of the citizens.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran in its order noted "Petitioner is projecting a very serious issue in this case, namely with respect to the quality and nature of the packing materials being used in the State of Kerala for serving food articles."

The Bench also stated, "I do not propose to go into the matter in detail at this stage, since it will certainly require a detailed deliberation, particularly at the end of the competent Authorities; and am of the definite view that the 2nd respondent – Commissioner of Food Safety, has an extremely important role to play in this regard."

Accordingly, the Court directed the Authority to take into account all relevant and germane aspects, including the imperatives to ensure public health and safety at the highest level - be that by the smallest of the restaurants or the largest of them. The Bench also expressed its grave concern over the potential risks posed by substandard packaging, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There is an added urgency to this matter because, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the distribution of food in packed containers has risen to great numbers; and there are hardly any specific instructions available, at least prima facie, with respect to the manner in which it is to be done", read the Order.

The Court further stated that the lives of citizens would be rendered in peril if the materials used for packing food articles were not properly monitored and supervised, especially when plastics were put to use for such purposes. The Judge stated that the issue in the Petition certainly causes a grave public health concern, and it requires the immediate attention of the competent Authorities.

The Court will now consider the matter on September 25, 2023.

Cause Title: Nebu Thomas Cherian v. State Of Kerala & Ors. [W.P(C)No.25246 of 2023]

Click here to read/download the Order