The recent inspections and arm-twisting by the Food Safety Commissionerate against erring hoteliers and food outlets in the state, against the backdrop of a few instances of food poisoning, was just to demonstrate the powers of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and to regularise standards for those involved in the food business operations, Food Safety Commissioner Biju Prabhakar told a seminar on ‘Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006’ here on Saturday.
“We are not hostile to the sector as is being made out. None need not be afraid of it. As an Act which is bound to be implemented at any cost, setting standards would ward off many difficulties in future for those running various ventures, such as stringent punishment and compensation. Looking at the emerging scenario from the people’s point of view is very important,” he said, delivering the keynote address.
“Achieving European standards in the food sector may not be possible. But definitely there should be some standards, for which a grading system from A to D will be brought in up to wayside ‘thattukadas’ with a unique logo issued for an adequate period, subject to periodical monitoring and evaluation. What we have in front of us is a three-year road map,” he said. “If the Commissionerate officials have gone wrong, including me, the matter can be taken up with higher authorities or the court.
“The Act is a well thought of law and there are no draconian problems at all. But an attitude of a section of hoteliers bordering lawlessness as if this is Kerala and everything is possible here, even after the conduct of 3,000 awareness sessions across the state, cannot be allowed. Also, none should have an approach to reap profits in one day,” Biju Prabhakar said.
The Commissioner said that after demonstrating the powers of the Act and make hoteliers aware of the fact that things have to change for the better, the Commissionerate has identified hotspots such as sources of adulteration including the rampant use of carcinogenic materials. It has been found that the role of additives which goes into the making of food is quite alarming, he disclosed. “It is not unhygienic conditions which is the real villain. Much more danger comes from invisible hazards,” he pointed out.
The Commissionerate is analysing the steps taken by Dubai in the past couple of years to streamline the food business operations in that country, Biju Prabhakar added. The seminar was jointly organised by the Association of Approved & Classified Hotels of Kerala, South Kerala Hoteliers’ Forum, Kerala Bar Hotels Association and Bakers Association, Kerala.