The next time you see your neighbourhood golawala in a hat and apron, don’t put it down to his fashion sense. In a bid to ensure all food stalls and their fare meet international standards, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to get them authorised by the department and is also concentrating on hygiene standards that these vendors will have to scrupulously follow. The department has set its sights on the city’s most-visited tourist spots like Juhu and Girgaum Chowpatty.
Recently, in order to get these stalls registered with FDA the department issued on-the-spot Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) licences to vendors, making their business legal.
According to sources, the unit’s initial focus is on Chowpatty, as it is the stamping ground of both domestic and foreign visitors. “So, in order to make the businesses legal and part of the new FSSAI law, the department has made things easier for traders by registering them on the spot. This is our phase-I trial,” said an FDA official.
Under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, FSSAI will issue a new licence under the name Food Safety and Standards (licensing and registration of food business) Regulations, 2011.
From a chai tapri to an Udipi restaurateur, every food trader will have to obtain this licence, after, of course, tackling the hygiene rider, which is a big deal in this country, explained a senior FDA official.
Confirming the same Suresh Deshmukh, joint commissioner (food), FDA, said, “In phase-I our target is to get these street vendors registered with us. In phase-II we intend to turn them hygiene-conscious by making aprons, gloves and hats mandatory. We plan to seek help of BMC and local cops who can fine retailers for not following FSSAI norms (see box).”
In the past, FDA in Maharashtra had conducted a series of meetings with hoteliers, other representatives of the hospitality trade, and people from the sampling and labelling industry across the state.
“The conferences were to give them a clear brief about rules and regulations, and guidelines of the amended FSSAI Act. As the law has come into force all over the state from August 2011, making people familiar with it is important. However, the department went slow on this, as we wanted the licensees to get accustomed to the changes. But now we will prosecute people from the hospitality industry if they are found violating norms,” explained a senior FDA official.
Adding to this, Deshmukh revealed that many vendors have already been penalised for not having FDA licences.
“We are now going to get strict with everyone. We have given them enough time to sort out matters. We have first targeted the busiest locales of the city, as we do not want any unhygienic food to be served to anybody who visits them.
Slowly and steadily we are going to make our way into the ‘khau gallis’,” he said.
“Who doesn’t want hygienic food? It is a great idea to make aprons and caps compulsory for sellers. There are times when these people wipe their hands on their shirts or trousers. It is so unhealthy. I think the new system will definitely work wonders for us,” said Mridula Sanghvi, a resident of Bandra.
Only those establishments will be registered where the following practices are in place:
>> Wearing gloves
>> Ensuring regular cleaning of machine and equipment
>> Ensuring no food is exposed in premises not separated from a privy, urinal, sullage, drain etc
>> Testing food for chemical and microbiological contamination
>> Maintaining ideal temperature throughout the supply chain, from the place of procurement till it reaches the end consumer
>> Manufacturer or distributor shall buy and sell food products from registered vendors
>> Hotel owners selling or exposing food for sale shall put up a notice board containing lists of articles which have been cooked in ghee, edible oil, or vanaspati for the benefit of purchasers
>> Business operator selling cooked food shall display notice board containing the nature of articles being exposed for sale
>> Penalty for substandard food: Rs 5 lakh
>> Penalty for misbranded food: Rs 5 lakh and above
>> Penalty for failure to comply with the directions of the food safety officer: Rs 2 lakh
>> For possessing adulterates: Rs 2-10 lakh
>> Punishment for unsafe food, not resulting in injury: Six months imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine
>> In case of death: Seven years imprisonment and Rs 10 lakh fine
>> Carrying on business without licence: Six months imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine
>> Failure to renew licence: Rs 100 fine each month