THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: To create awareness among consumers and develop a culture of self-compliance among food business operators (FBO), Food Safety Authority has rolled out food hygiene rating schemes for FBOs in the state capital. This is the first time an external agency is being deployed to assess FBOs. The pilot project includes a hygiene rating audit agency based in Chennai to verify food hygiene standards and rate FBOs as per the norms set by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
According to officials, the rating system will help consumers choose safer eateries and shops as people have become cautious about hygiene standards due to the pandemic. The hygiene certificate would be displayed prominently at the selected eateries. Assistant food safety commissioner of Thiruvananthapuram Alex K Issac said auditing is being launched as part of an FSSAI scheme.
“Around 50 sweet and meat shops were selected for auditing from various food safety circles in the district. As per the feedback from the agency, almost every FBO audited had more than 90 per cent hygiene standards. The final audit report will be ready soon,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Commissionerate of Food Safety is gearing up to launch a comprehensive survey in the corporation area to find an accurate number of FBOs. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed with Kudumbashree Mission to carry out the survey. The survey is being launched as part of Eat Right India -- a public health initiative of the Food Safety Department.
“We will be signing an agreement with the Kudumbashree Mission this week. The plan is to digitise the total number of FBOs which will include street vendors, meat shops, eateries, restaurants and any outlet selling food. Currently, there are many takers in the food industry part of the unorganised sector and we need to streamline their activities to ensure hygiene. We hope to complete the survey by March 15,” said Alex. The department will pay Kudumbashree volunteers H12 per shop.He said that the plan is to achieve 100 per cent registration and licence of all FBOs in the district.
Human resource crisis
Lack of adequate staff and vehicles is hampering the daily activities of the district food safety authorities. Currently, there are only 14 food safety officers for the entire district. According to officials, seven of the 10 clerical posts are lying vacant causing a huge inconvenience for the department. “We need at least one food safety officer per panchayat. Four food safety officers are taking care of the entire corporation. Also, we don’t have sufficient transportation,” added Alex
Number of inspections held since March 2020
3,375 Number of food safety registrations issued
32,675Number of statutory samples collected
499 Number of surveillance samples collected
2,394Fine collected for various violations
C5.9l Total quantity of fish destroyed