Thursday, October 7, 2010


Hygiene and sanitation aspects have an important bearing on the safety of foods prepared and marketed whether they come from eateries or organized processing industry. Almost all food contamination episodes and frequent market recalls are traced to lack of oversight on the part of the manufacturers regarding the safety practices required to be in place. The much vaunted HACCP system was evolved to make the workers aware of the risks involved at different stages of food preparation and to be more vigilant in avoiding wrong steps in the process chain. In a country like the EU or the US prevalence of frequent inspection of preparation facilities by inspection teams is able to minimize safety violations as far as possible though food poisoning incidences do occur some time. The hygiene rating system being practiced in Wales recommends itself to many developing countries and this can be expected to keep the processors on their toes when it comes to adopting safe practices.

"From this month council inspections of firms serving, selling or preparing food will be used to calculate a rating of between zero and five. Zero will indicate that "urgent improvement" is necessary while the top rating of five will mean that a business had "very good" standards. But it will not be compulsory for firms to display their ratings. The public will be able to access ratings through a searchable database, which will be overseen by the Food Standards Agency".

The on going debate whether the system should be made compulsory is interesting because the success of the system is determined by how sincerely it is practiced. It is doubtful whether left to themselves eateries would adopt voluntarily any guidelines that calls for extra vigilance and expenditure. The fact that only 25% of the industry has adopted the new rating system speaks for itself. Strict compliance and exemplary deterrent punishment can only guarantee success for such hygiene rating system.


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