While most canteens in colleges and corporate houses serve outsourced food, it is assumed that the management is not responsible if the food turns bad.
This lax behaviour results in bad hygiene conditions in canteens.
“Most managements feel that as the food is cooked by a third party, it is their responsibility to maintain hygiene. But, the managements forget that it is their responsibility to check if hygiene is maintained by the third party,” said Ashwin Bhadri, head, business relations, Equinox Lab, a professional agency working in the hygiene audit sector.
“Under such conditions, if there is food contamination or an unfortunate incident caused by the contamination, the management and food vendor are equally at fault.”
Most canteens in offices and colleges do not have kitchens due to space constraints and depend on caterers. The quality of such food is doubtful because the consumer does not know where and how it was cooked.
As the food is cooked outside the company or college premises, the management does not take responsible in case of any problems, such as food turning bad.
The caterer, too, feels that once the food is out of his kitchen, he is not responsible if it gets contaminated.
“Owing to such confusion, there is never proper dialogue between the company or college and the food vendor. While both think it is not their responsibility, hygiene goes for a toss,” said Bhadri.
And, this confusion eventually leads to low standards of hygiene at canteens.
“No one knows the name of the caterer in the IIT food poisoning case. Everyone has been associating the incident with the institute. Even if the management is not at fault, the brand name is affected,” added Bhadri.
“The management might be under the impression that it is just offering food at subsidised rates. But, as the food is served on their premises, the management is equally responsible in case of any hazard.”