THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There is good news for the food junkies in the city. Particularly, those who were apprehensive about visiting restaurants after recent raids revealed the unhygienic conditions in which some of them prepare food. For, the Food Safety officials are planning to come up with a ‘safe hotels’ list, in which the restaurants will be ranked according to food safety standards.
“Once we cover a sizable number of hotels in the city, we would be ranking the hotels based on our results, which would be easily available on our website. The people can easily refer to the list, and decide where to go. This is just one of the few steps we are taking to ensure that food safety is not compromised in the city once the raids are over,” said Gopakumar, research officer, Food Safety.
The steps taken by the Food Safety officials are aimed at ensuring that the city hotels strictly follow the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006. “The preliminary raids were just the beginning. The results startled us, as well as the people of the city. After which we had set up a toll-free helpline number, and as the number of calls we received daily on it was overwhelming, the need for a second round of raids was imperative. Also, with the monsoon approaching, these raids act as a preventive measure to check the numerous diseases that appear during the rainy season,” he added.
During the raids it was found there were many restaurants that didn’t meet even the basic requirements like cleanliness. “Our raids are conducted on a 30-point system, and many of the restaurants didn’t even come close to the basic requirements. We had to take necessary action and several restaurants had to be shut down,” said Gopakumar.
The Food Safety officials’ advice would be to cook a nice meal at home. “My advice to people is just to avoid hotel food as much as possible, Otherwise, if a person is so particular to eat outside, every restaurant that has been approved by the Office of the Commissioner of Food Safety would have a certificate which would be displayed at the establishment,” said Gopakumar.
The people of Thiruvanathapuram have their own views regarding the hygienic conditions of the hotels. Shweta Nair, a techie in the city, said that when it is about restaurants, looks can be certainly deceptive. “Hotels which I have gone to only because they looked clean and the food tasted good have come under the radar of these raids. We don’t know how clean the kitchen is. The safe hotels list would definitely benefit the restaurant-goers. We can be sure about the food we have,” she said.
For people like Aparna Girish, hotel visits have become infrequent ever since the news of the raids broke. “For us, the food is tasty and the hotel looks clean, but we have no idea what they add to our food, or how clean the kitchen is. So, eating out has decreased considerably. Even for a get-together, staying at home and cooking our own meal is much better,” said Aparna, a homemaker.