Members of the Food Business Operator’s Association (FBOA) are helping officials of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the task of registering food vendors in various districts of the state, including the city.
The helping hand comes at a time when the FDA is facing a shortage of manpower. As per the rules, any person dealing with food, either on a small or large-scale, must be registered under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) with the FDA.
With assistance from the FBOA, the FDA will be able to reach out to every food stall and chai tapir across the city and in the surrounding areas. FBOA contacts food vendors in the area, gives them information about the FSSA and list of documents required, after which the vendors can visit camps in areas close to them where they can register themselves. There are around 250 food safety officers in the state, who handle the registration process, court cases and implementation of the FSSA.
“Considering the manpower crunch, it is difficult to cover every food vendor from grass root level. So the FBOA is helping FDA with a team of volunteers. They are not only informing all the food vendors about the act, but are also providing material like forms and a list of documents necessary for registration,” Shivaji Desai, assistant commissioner of FDA (food) said.
Regarding the new concept, Sachin Sawant, president of the Food Business Operator’s Association said, “As the act was being implemented in the state and considering the shortage of manpower in the FDA, we decided to help. Being a food business owner, I took the initiative with a few friends and approached the FDA office with the concept.”
Once the food vendors submit the necessary documents and pay the registration fee, their licences will be posted to them. On the other hand, Many food vendors have been reluctant to register under the act, as they feel it is not meant for them.
The FBOA volunteers have been approaching them with information about the act and how it is important to them. Commenting on the difficulties the volunteers face, Sawant said, “There are many issues raised when we tell the vendors about the act, as they are not aware about it. We tell them the importance of the act and why they should register with the FDA.”
The volunteers also offer the vendors FBOA membership, which will include various workshops for the food stall owners. “Along with registration, we are offering them membership with FBOA food stall owners, which will be beneficial for them since we will be conducting beneficial workshops. Though membership is not compulsory for whoever wants to register with the FDA, we are just offering it,” Sawant said.