Himachal High Court bans sale of junk food in plastic packs

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the state government to ban sale of junk food in non bio-degradable packs from April 1 but exempted essential items like edible oil and milk from the ban.

A division bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjay Karool directed that the list of non-essential items (junk food), identified by committee set up by the High Court, are not to be sold in non-biodegradable packing.

The items included chips, wafers, biscuits, namkeen, candy, chewing gum, ice cream, chocolates, noodles, sugary cereals, cornflakes, pizzas, burgers, patties, French fries, carbonated drinks, fruit beverages, cakes etc.

“Use of paper bags for packing food items such as wafers, chips etc. may not be permitted in non-biodegradable material and use of other options such as tetra packs, tin packing or biodegradable plastic of 20 micro metre thickness is proposed,” the division bench observed.

“We are not in any manner issuing directions that such items are banned because that is not within the purview of the court but if we follow the law enacted by the state (Himachal) Pradesh Non-Biodegradable (Control) Act, 1995, the least we can do is to direct that these harmful items, which are classified as junk foods, if sold in the state in packing condition should be sold only in bio-degradable packing,” the judges said.

They said selling such food stuff in biodegradable packing might make these items slightly more expensive but if the consumption of these items is reduced (owing to price rise), it would be the worth paying that extra money to protect not only the environment of the state but also the health of the children.

“We also make it clear that if we find that this experiment is successful then we may expand the scope of this order to cover other nonessential items also,” the court said.

The bench, however, said the list of food items identified for the ban is not the final.

The petitioners can file response to the report and claim that order items should also be included in the list".The court listed the matter for hearing on March 15 next.

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