HYDERABAD: The acute staff crunch in the food safety wing of the health department of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation is severely hampering inspection of the restaurants and other food joints in the sprawling city.
According to the Food Safety and Standards Act 2011, local bodies should have adequate number of food safety officers to monitor food quality in hotels and collect samples for examination on a regular basis. The Act also suggests that the licences of food caterers be given only after a standard quality test and permits be regularly revised.
It is shocking to know that there are just four food inspectors for all the 18 circles of GHMC. And they are over 20,000 eateries in the city. Despite the growing work, there has been no recruitment for several years. Considering the vast area of the twin cities, it is nearly impossible for the four officials to visit every eatery to collect food samples. Taking advantage, eateries are violating the Food Safety Act.
Worse, the skeletal staff has been assigned additional duties for Intensive Household Survey and Ganesh Immersion. “Now, all the food safety officials are busy with the idol immersion work and there won’t be any inspection until immersion is over,” said T.Damodar, an official of the health and sanitation wing of GHMC.
Recently, GHMC officials sealed a poultry farm at Ramnagar for supplying rotten chicken. Many fast food centres in the city are allegedly using expired meat in food preparations. Even big hotels are culprits in this regard. “We can’t blame just petty small food stalls as star hotels too violate the rules. But the punishment is the same irrespective of their status,” said Damodar.
The food quality testing team is finding it very difficult to cover the entire city. Besides, the GHMC does not have a well-equipped lab to conduct an accurate analysis of the quality.