Taking into account the insufficient number of vending outlets in the Thiruvananthapuram division, the Railways will set up more food stalls with immediate effect, Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal has said.
In order to make up for the lack of hygiene and proper standards of the vendors, the division has joined hands with the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Kovalam, to impart one-week training to the vendors who are appointed on contract basis. The initiative started by the Railways two months ago, has already handed over certificates to many vendors at a stipend of `200.
Rajesh Agarwal was inaugurating the seminar on ‘Food safety and Nutrition’ held at Kochi on Tuesday. He said that it was the first such initiative by the Southern Railway to impart an awareness seminar by joining the caterers, food handlers, licensees, vendors of stalls and health inspectors of the Railways. He said that the division would not be lenient on vendors who are slack on serving hygienic and quality food. “We won’t compromise on the orders by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSA) and will punish all those who are found violating the rules and regulations,” he said.
Joint Food Safety Commissioner of the Southern Railway Dr Anil Thomas said that the food safety wing formed by the Zonal Railways in 2012 have started dealing with cases related to inadequate food supply and low quality of the food served on trains and platforms.
So far, the Southern Railway has found 17 non-branded food items and six unsafe food products. A total of four cases have been prosecuted so far. The Railways had recently fined `3 lakh from the contractors, licensees, and vendors who sold unhealthy mango juice on a train, said Designated Officer of Southern Railway Mohan Razan.
According to Anil Thomas, three departments, including the commercial, mechanical and health wings are responsible for proper maintenance of the pantry cars and the quality of food.
Senior Divisional Commercial Manager A Sundar emphasised on the need of the vendors to maintain cleanliness and hygienity while food is prepared.
“Gloves and headgear is mandatory while preparing as well as serving food. Menu details of the food products which are being sold on trains should be displayed,” he said.
He expressed dissatisfaction on the qualification of cooks and vendors who are assigned under contract.