Monday, March 12, 2012


One of the few pleasures of life for a middle class family is visiting a decent restaurant for having a leisurely experience of consuming food preparations which are difficult to make at home. Besides such eating out practice enhances family values though it can make a big hole in the family budget, especially these days when all eateries have literally doubled or tripled the prices during the last two years. At least the customers patronizing the restaurants had the consolation the eating in these places will not endanger their lives because of the vigilance of the local civic authorities in regularly monitoring the safety of the foods served at these places. now comes the news from different parts of the country about the pathetic safety management in most places due to ill-planning on the part of FSSAI, the "apostle" of food safety measures in India. Here is a report from Chennai about the ground reality obtaining in many towns across Tamil Nadu vis-a-vis food safety vigilance activity.

"Eating out has become risky, with state health authorities not inspecting restaurants or carrying out checks on their kitchens for the past seven months. This has become a problem since perishables rot faster in the summer heat due to longer power cuts. After the responsibility of food safety was taken from municipal corporations and given to a special state food safety unit, monitoring has been consigned to the backburner. The newly-formed unit has been struggling with its organisation, training and logistics. "We are yet to begin taking samples or conducting raids in Chennai," said a food safety official in Chennai. "We are still registering eateries and setting up offices." According to the state health department, corporations stopped collecting samples for testing and raiding restaurants to check if they are conforming to quality specifications in August 2011. A Chennai corporation official estimates that it may have been nine months since samples were collected. Health experts and corporation officials say unscrupulous restaurateurs and manufacturers of food products could take advantage of the fact that no checks are being conducted. "With several hours of power cuts being imposed on the state every day, the absence of checks could be a problem as perishable goods are likely to spoil even faster," an official said. Officials say funding for the health department under the new Food Safety Act has begun only now, almost a year after the act was implemented. Even the state food commissioner is currently operating from the state homeopathy hospital without any support staff. Health department offices in other districts in the state have also been brought standstill, with the exception of Madurai and Coimbatore where officials recently started collecting samples for testing. "But we haven't begun taking samples yet," said a health department official in Tirunelveli. "Right now we our focus is on completing the registrations of over 12,000 small establishments in this district." Many other districts are awaiting release of funds and allotment of office space. In Coimbatore samples have been collected from three restaurants so far and two were found to be contaminated but the authorities were unable to prosecute them, added a local food officer. Food safety, until last year, was overseen as additional duties by health officers in city and town municipal corporations. Rules regarding food safety were covered by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. Now a new, more comprehensive, law is in place that has specific instructions for food packaging, ingredient display, hygiene and sanitary conditions".

Such reports are pouring in from different places across the country though from time to time assurances are given that things would improve and these are nothing but teething troubles experienced at the beginning of a new system. It is pathetic to hear such excuses from the Babus of FSSAI who were supposed to have been working on the Food Safety Bill since 2005! The citizen has a genuine right to ask how many more years it will take for the system to start clicking! In the mean time what will be the fate of the common man caught between the devil and the deep sea? Hoteliers must be a happy lot because they can compromise on investment on safety related activities with impunity! Of course there are many honest players among them who do not need the "stick" to enforce safety related rules as go by their conscience to fulfill their duty and obligation to their customers. Is it not ridiculous for the officials to claim that they are busy registering the eateries and therefore have no time for checking the hygiene and sanitation in these catering places?


1 comment:

Webcam Software said...

One of the most useful tips that I got from a friend was to install a restaurant camera. He recommended a webcam software called GotoCamera This is how it works - Set up a webcam near to your cash counter or any part of your restaurant which you wish to monitor, download the GotoCamera software. The set-up instructions are pretty simple and easy to follow. The best part is that you can access it from your smart phone so that you can remotely monitor your camera's recordings when you are away from your restaurant.