A room packed with local restaurateurs listened with rapt attention as lessons were given on how to keep their kitchens clean and hygienic at DNA’s Hygiene For Kitchens workshop.
The New Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, which came into effect in 2011, requires every food business operator to stick to food safety norms.
The workshop, which was organised in association with the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association and Equinox Labs on July 26, focused on helping restaurateurs follow the norms prescribed by the state Food and Drug Administration under the FSSA.
More than 150 restaurateurs were unaware whether their cooks or waiters washed hands after visiting the loo. “Washing hands is one of the basic requirements to ensure food safety. Many a times, adequate soap is not available for the food handlers,” said Ashwin Bhadri, head, business relations at Equinox Labs.
He also stressed on the need for regular medical check-up for the staff. “It is mandatory for a hotel owner employer to verify with the doctor that his employees do not suffer from any infectious skin disease or contagious ailment, but is rarely done. At times the doctor doesn’t even examine the employee and issues a medical certificate. This, under the new Act, will work against a restaurant owner, if a customer falls ill due to unhygienic standards in the kitchen.”
According to the rulebook, penalties ranging from Rs1 lakh up to Rs10 lakh with a maximum of six years’ jail could be imposed on the restaurateur if proven guilty for maintaining unsanitary conditions leading to illness or death of a person after consuming the unhygienic food.
The workshop also focused on the need for restaurateurs to document the steps taken to maintain hygiene under the 14-point agenda of food safety management system. “Every owner should jot down the description of the surroundings around the eatery. Also, he should ensure the water is clean, utensils and containers washed properly and the place is well ventilated. Self-inspection and audits will led to better standards of hygiene,” said Bala Shetty, who owns a restaurant in Wadala.