For a city like ours that sees at least one food outlet mushrooming almost daily, maintaining food quality and ensuring the best practices in food safety and hygiene is of paramount importance.
Very recently, multiple outlets in the city were under the radar of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pune, which later ordered stop-business notices to various small and popular restaurants for doing business without a FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) licences and not adhering to the food safety norms of Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 and Food Safety and Standard Rules, 2011.
To reduce common adulteration of food and to compensate for the inadequate number of food testing labs in the country, the food regulatory authority FSSAI came up with mobile units for food testing, Food Safety on Wheels (FSW) under the Central Sector Scheme.
These Government funded vans will be equipped to conduct on the spot inspection and conducting simple tests for common adulterants in milk, water, edible oil and other items of food of daily consumption.
The mobile units will also be used to spread awareness about food safety, hygiene and promoting healthy eating habits in citizens at large and for conducting training and certification programme for food handlers and supervisors in food businesses, particularly petty food businesses.
Expressing her grave concern for the decreasing food quality in the city, Purnia Kale, a Kondhwa resident says, “The recent raid at Pune’s Camp area reflect that even the most popular and established restaurants cannot be trusted when it comes to maintaining healthy and hygienic conditions in their kitchens.
The instructions issued to stop operations to these outlets came as a shocker for many food enthusiasts who will now be more cautious of what they consume.
“There is dire need for such mobile food inspection vans in the city to create awareness among people on what they consume. This will also keep the food establishments on their toes and ensure they follow all guidelines,” Kale adds.
So far, 44 FSW vehicles have been sanctioned to 31 States/UTs out of which 35 FSWs has been delivered to 25 States and 4 FSWs to 4 Union Territories. 2 FSW has been sanctioned to the State of Maharashtra in February 2019.
Speaking on the disturbing conditions at various food outlets in the city, Ranjan Rao, an IT employee and popular food reviewer on various online food sites says, “I have this knack of trying different food items from various cuisines across the globe and Pune has many outlets that serve both Indian and global cuisine.
“I have tried food from small make-shift ‘tapris’ to multi-starred restaurants and believe me, the one mantra to be able to enjoy your food is by never visiting their kitchen.
Even the concept of open kitchen is a delusion as they do only the last steps of the cooking in front of the guest.
Leave alone using gloves and covering their heads while cooking, many kitchens are not even pest free, often, cockroaches are the ‘free’ delicacy with your dishes.
Pune certainly needs multiple surprise inspections and food testing labs to ensure people have quality food,” adds Rao.
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