Monday, July 5, 2010


No matter how loudly one proclaims about one's intentions about doing some thing positive, the proof of sincerity and commitment can come only when they are carried out effectively. The food authority in India has an unenviable "reputation" of proclaiming many schemes, looking good on paper but rarely implemented because of lack of follow up action or paucity of right personnel to execute the program. Latest brain wave from the safety authority was supposed to have resulted in grading eating places according to their facilities and safety credentials. Unfortunately the scheme offered as a voluntary choice was shunned by all the caterers with not even a single establishment showing any interest. If news reports in the media are to be believed the scheme could not be "implemented" because it was not "mandatory". It does not require any extra ordinary intelligence to expect such a result having known the attitude of the hoteliers to any food safety measures. Restaurants are supposed to be inspected frequently by the public health personnel belonging to the civic bodies of the area where they are located for hygiene, sanitation and food quality which never happens leaving the customers to their "fate".

"He continued, "The [Food Safety and Standard Authority of India] has not made the accreditation mandatory for food establishments, which is the biggest reason why eatery owners have not responded. However, sooner or later, the Union government will make it compulsory and restaurants, dhabas and the like will then have to necessarily get themselves rated." Food establishments are to be rated on food safety which includes cleanliness, food contamination, equipment used for cooking, storage, air quality and ventilation, hygiene facilities and toilets, food packing, water and ice quality, management and supervision, documents and records, pest control systems, and waste management, according to the Quality Control of India norms. According to the Food Safety and Standard Authority, food establishments that are eligible for the accreditation process include small restaurants, small and medium eating establishments, dhabas, retail outlets serving food, fresh juice outlets, and even shops serving unlabeled pre-packaged or loose sweets and bakery items, reported the Times of India. The rating levels of food establishments will be platinum, gold, silver, and bronze".
Now that the "fault" has been identified for the failure of the scheme, such grading can be expected to be made mandatory. Under such a situation the government "babus" vested with the "power" to grant the "favor" are in line for amassing fortunes from "considerations" showered on the beneficiaries. If the existing machinery for inspection and deterrent punishment is effectively and sincerely used, there might not have been any need for grading. Even assuming that grading is advantageous the public health personnel in the civic administration are better equipped to do the job with a little retraining and expansion of the force. Ultimately honesty, dedication and corruption-free system can only bring about any meaningful changes in a decadent set up like the one that exists to day.


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