The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India’s initiative to accredit food establishments has found no takers, since not a single eatery has responded to the authority’s offer for accreditation through Quality Control of India.
The Food Safety and Standard Authority recently handed Quality Control of India the accreditation process, directing it to decide the norms and, accordingly, accredit restaurants, eateries, and dhabas–roadside restaurants–across the country.
Speaking to the Times of India, Anil Jauhri, director, Quality Control of India, said, “We formulated the norms, as per [Food Safety and Standard Authority of India] instructions, to rate food establishments in the country in December last year. We decided to execute the process on a pilot basis in the western zone in various cities, including Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. Three nodal agencies were appointed to do the job. However, no food establishment in the zone came forward to get itself rated.”
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.
Jauhri said, “The objective is to improve safety and quality of food being served in various food establishments. However, it is disappointing to see that it has been six months and no establishment has come forward.”
He did admit however, that one of the reasons was the lack of awareness about the rating system. A major publicity drive will be taken up in the near future, he noted.
Ganesh Shetty, president of the Pune restaurants and hotels association, said, “We are not even aware that such a system exists in India. We have not received any intimation, written or otherwise, about the rating system. We need to know what the process is all about. If communicated properly, I am sure food establishments will be willing to get themselves accredited.”