“Food” and “Foodstuff” – Meaning of

The meaning of “foodstuff” according to lexicographers is as follows:
1. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary – A substance suitable for consumption as food.
2. Collins English Dictionary – Any material, substance, etc. that can be used as food.
3. Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners – A type of food.
The aforesaid clarifies that the expression “foodstuff” in itself does not constitute a class of products but only encompasses the products which fall into the category of “food”. This necessitates examination of the term “food” to ascertain import of “foodstuffs”.
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Third Edition) defines “food” as “what one takes into the system to maintain life and growth”. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, “food” means:
“material consisting of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and supplementary substances….that is taken or absorbed into the body of an organism in order to sustain growth, repair and all vital processes and to furnish energy for all activity of the organism.
Something that nourishes or develops or sustains.”
Therefore, “foodstuff” would refer to anything with a nutritive value which is consumed for growth or sustaining one’s life.
In Welcom Hotel v. State of A.P., (1983) 4 SCC 575, the Court while construing the term “foodstuff”, has observed that the expression “foodstuffs” is made of two expressions, “food” plus “stuff”. The expression “food” has generally been understood to mean nutritive material absorbed or taken into the body of an organism which serves for the purposes of growth, work or repair and for the maintenance of vital process. While, the stuff which is used as food would be foodstuff and therefore, foodstuff is that which is taken into the system to maintain life and growth and to supply waste of tissue. Gulati and Company v. Commissioner of Sales Tax, (2014) 14 SCC 286.

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