The Food and Drugs Act including all regulations made under it were outdated since a very long time. They could no longer cope with the emerging challenges and new changes occurring in the field of food technology, food consumption patterns and quality assurance. The consolidation, reinforcement and updating of the existing legislation has become a priority, if not a necessity and it is for this reason that a comprehensive new legislation, the Food Act and Food regulations, has been prepared and put into force as from 1st January, 2000.
The Food Act including the Food Regulations is designed as a modern piece of legislation in a modern world, for a modern Mauritius preparing its entry for the third millennium with confidence as a society. It provides for more effective and efficient protection for consumers against those who put our health at risk by dealing with food that is unfit for human consumption and detrimental to public health. It will reduce the current levels of sickness, disability, morbidity resulting from food related diseases and poisoning. It will remove much of the unwarranted burden on our over-pressed health services. Unfit food is not merely a social problem for customers and their families, it also presents a heavy cost to our already hard pressed hospital and local health services.
The Food Act is an essential legislation for our time. Since 1940, the Food and Drugs Act was passed under the colonial regime, much has changed. There are new forms of food not adequately covered in the 1940 Act. There are new ways of preparing, packing, promoting and selling food not previously envisaged and surely technically impossible.
The Food Regulations have been worked out according to international norms and standards such as those recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. They consist of 428 Sections and 64 Schedules
The Food Act will protect the health of local people but also of those who come here on business and as tourists. Over 550,000 tourists visit Mauritius a year and expect to find standards. The carrying capacity for the year 2002 is estimated at 900,000. The Ministry of Health and Quality of Life will continue to be vigilant to ensure that all our hotels and restaurants used by the local population, tourists, businessmen and other visitors meet the standards set out in the Food Act. The same standards will apply to hospitals and to schools both in the public and the private sectors. Where human life and health is at risk, there must not be double standards.
The Court is empowered under the Food Act to impose fines of not less than Rs 2000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.
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