Monday, March 1, 2010


Restaurants are expected to maintain certain minimum sanitary and hygienic standards that will ensure safety of their customers from health angle. Many countries have varying requirements vis-à-vis these requirements and the efficacy of monitoring and punitive measures targeted at defaulters also vary widely. In India restaurant customers are at the total mercy of the restaurant owners as the safety rules as well as their enforcement can, at best, be an apology with no teeth. Indian citizens are fortunately blessed with strong immunity through constant exposure to foods of indifferent quality being peddled by the catering sector including the street vendors. One would think that ethnic restaurants like those with Indian or Asian origin would be more careful when operating in a country like the US or in Europe. How ever recent reports point to the lax attitude of ethic restaurants in maintaining safety standards in force in these countries.

"In a study of independently owned restaurants in 14 Kansas counties, Kansas State University researchers found a significantly higher number of food safety violations in ethnic restaurants than in non-ethnic restaurants. The next step for their research is to understand the reasons for these differences and to work alongside restaurant operators to remedy the problems. Leading the study were Junehee Kwon, associate professor, and Kevin Roberts, assistant professor, both of the department of hospitality management and dietetics. They found that independently owned ethnic restaurants had significantly more violations for several food safety categories, including time and temperature control, hand washing and proper use of utensils. The independent ethnic restaurants in the study also had more inspections than their non-ethnic counterparts. Kwon said many of those repeat visits were driven by customer complaints".

Basics of sanitation and hygiene ought to be a part of the social and cultural features of a society which can be inculcated at young age through schools and parental intervention. This aspect is grossly neglected in a country like India and this is reflected by the wide spread operation of sub-standard catering joints not only within the country but also where ever Indians go for doing restaurant business. GOI must wake up and do some thing to reverse this undesirable and dangerous trait amongst its catering entrepreneurs.


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