Monday, March 8, 2010


With food processing industry being blamed for making food products not considered healthy all over the world, regulatory agencies have hard time to come out with a strategy to arrest this trend and regain confidence of the consumer. These agencies vested with power can impose mandatory measures for the industry to follow and many times such action many appear harsh and difficult to adhere to. This is where industry must try to take effective steps to discipline itself through sustained action collectively by taking up social responsibility for the harm done by its products. While in some countries such self regulation works to some extent in many other cases industry does not adhere to self discipline forcing governments to intervene in favor of the consumers.

"Threatened by possible government regulation and critical public opinion, industries often undertake self-regulatory actions, issue statements of concern for public welfare, and assert that self-regulation is sufficient to protect the public. The food industry has made highly visible pledges to curtail children's food marketing, sell fewer unhealthy products in schools, and label foods in responsible ways. Ceding regulation to industry carries opportunities but is highly risky. In some industries (e.g., tobacco), self-regulation has been an abject failure, but in others (e.g., forestry and marine fisheries), it has been more successful. The authors examined food industry self-regulation in the context of other self-regulatory successes and failures and defined eight standards that should be met if self-regulation is to be effective".

A critical analysis of self regulation models does indicate that it can work provided some pre-requisites are met. In a country like India it is doubtful whether self regulation will ever work since a major segment of the industry is concentrated in the small scale and cottage level sectors with many of them having not even a permanent address! As the food standard violators, especially those doing repeatedly and deliberately for financial gains are criminals in the legal sense, deterrent punishment of extreme severity only can work.

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