Scared for profits, hoteliers write to health ministry

Sep 22, 2011, 08:14 IST | Urvashi Seth

Fearing a slump in business after Health Ministry's resolution legalising street food, restaurateurs will request that the law be reworked

Worried that the Centre's latest move to legalise street food vendors if they maintain hygiene and quality would make serious inroads into their profits, hotel associations in the state have decided to write to the Union Health Ministry asking to rework the law.

Worried: Restaurateurs object to Centre's move to legalise street food
vendors if they maintain hygiene and quality. representation pic

Objecting to the recent amendment to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which allows street food vendors to run legally after obtaining a licence from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), restaurateurs have sought a meeting with FDA officials.

As MiD DAY reported yesterday, ('Your street food just got healthy'), in a bid to raise hygiene standards, the Health Ministry has asked FDA to issue licences to vendors, if they meet its benchmark of cleanliness and quality. However, the hotel industry objects to the move, which they claim will eat into its revenues by promoting roadside food.

Khushal Bhandari, acting president, Thane Hotel Owners' Association, will hold a meeting with officials to discus the idea of registering food hawkers. "Why does the government have to promote street food? Soon, all hotel and restaurant owners will shut shop and start mobile food vending. Moreover, there are two contradictory laws brought in by one government, as the BMC does not authorise roadside food. We have decided to bring this up with the FDA."

Shedding light on the confusion, GH Rathod, joint commissioner (food), FDA said, "We are only registering the food stalls and giving permission to sell foodstuff. The installation of the stall or the place is the jurisdiction of the BMC. Since we don't have any interconnection with the civic body, we give permissions to sell products on the basis of our laws. BMC is free to act as per it own law in its area of jurisdiction."

However, Rathod maintained there are related pending matters in the Supreme Court, and in due course of time, the BMC will have to permit such stalls.

Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR), a banner with over 8,000 restaurants and hotels, have also decided to write to the Health Ministry, which issued the resolution amending the law.  "We had earlier written to the ministry expressing our objections, but to no avail. We have decided to write to them again, as these two diverse laws will do no good to the industry," said Sudhakar Shetty, president, AHAR. He has decided to have a joint meeting with all the associations across Maharashtra to decide on the action that needs to be taken in light of the recent amendment.

A worried proprietor who has been running his restaurant for years, said, "We will have to shut our business, now that the vendors are permitted to sell food by law. Government should think twice before implementing."

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