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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Tuesday, 18 June 2024 2.28 AM IST

Problems with Food Safety Dept in Kerala

food-safety

In today's times, families often go out to eat or order food from outside. Food prepared at restaurants has become a part of the lifestyle of our new generation. What used to be an occasional hotel meal has now become several times a week. The reluctance to cook in the kitchen, the variety of dishes available at restaurants and their special taste have led to this trend. Snack bars, hotels, and restaurants are popping up throughout the state as a result of the rising demand for restaurant cuisine. The Food Safety Department should perform to the highest standard of excellence and efficiency in this situation. However, people have often raised several complaints about the functioning of this department.

Typically, the Food Safety Department waits to take action until a shawarma-related food poisoning death occurs in the state. After that, it will carry out inspections, close down eateries, and slap fines on restaurant owners for around a month. Things will go back to how they were after a while. The Food Safety Department is a government department where bribery reigns supreme. The Vigilance inspections carried out at food safety offices have proved that the allegations made by the people about this department are mostly true. Widespread irregularities were found in the Vigilance raids conducted at the Food Safety Commissionerate and 67 Food Safety offices. Even though the Food Safety Department must grant licenses to food manufacturers with an annual turnover of above 12 lakhs, the majority of these manufacturers were only given registration intended for small-scale operators.

The government is suffering significant losses in terms of fees and other costs as a result of this collusion between hoteliers and food safety regulators. The workers of large restaurants are receiving the majority of the free training that the government offers to small businesses. It was also found that the attendant of the Thodupuzha food safety circle office was accepting money from hotel and resort owners in the region through Google Pay. The law calls for fines to be slapped on hoteliers if test results show that the samples collected by officials of the food department are unsafe, low quality, etc. However, it was found that the officials are not slapping fines in several places. It was also found that some officials were holding back files to save the hoteliers from punishment.

These irregularities were found in the Food Safety Assistant Commissioner offices in Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur districts and the Food Safety Circle offices in Nedumangad, Kuravilangad, Manjeri, Kalpetta, Mananthavady, Irikkur, Taliparamba, Thalassery, Mattannur and Uduma. Many restaurants have not renewed their expired licenses. It was also found that food samples were stored in a damaged fridge in the office of the Assistant Food Safety Commissioner in Ernakulam. The Food Safety office in Ranni was not even open at the time of inspection. Moreover, it has been discovered that samples were not collected as per quota in several places. Inspections of this kind are pointless if the government does not take strong action against those officials who are found guilty based on the comprehensive report of anomalies that the Vigilance filed.

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