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Safety first for food stop

The magic of a munch or a meal outside has mesmerised Calcutta, evident from the plethora of dining dens mushrooming every month.

Now, the best practices being embraced by the city’s restaurant trade have been recognised with a triple-crown accreditation for a home-grown outlet that puts it top of the pile, nationally.

Grain of Salt, the Sanjeev Kapoor-signature world cuisine stop on Camac Street, has bagged the trophy triumvirate ' ISO 9001:2000 for quality management systems, ISO 14001:2004 for environment management systems, and HACCP for the highest international food-safety norms.

“The implementation of the above three systems is the first for any standalone independent restaurant property in India,” says Pankaj Tandon, head, administration, Grain of Salt.

An external audit and a two-day on-site verification by a national team of auditors were part of the assessment drill.

Saluting the feat, the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) awarded Grain the prestigious Environment Champion Among Independent Restaurants title at its golden jubilee annual convention in Chennai last month.

ISO refers to an International Standards Organisation, a means of verifying that a proposed standard has met certain requirements for due process, consensus and other criteria by those developing the standard.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis at Critical Control Points, an internationally recognised and recommended approach to food safety that anticipates and prevents hazards associated with ingredients.

In the lead-up to the evaluation, a rigorous six-month implementation routine was drawn up.

It involved the creation of a 130-page integrated quality manual, two detailed product manuals featuring recipes and process flows, rigorous training schedules, staff motivation exercises, supplier ratings and more.

Equipment calibrations, water controls, energy savings, validation and verification of critical control points, defining environmental aspects and their impacts, creation of standardised formats and controlled documentation on site safety besides various quality and environment enhancing activities were also undertaken.

The F&B industry in Calcutta feels the awards, coming close on the heels of the top Icra ratings for city real estate developers, would go a long way in enhancing the metro’s image and set “standards for other cities to follow”.

“This is extremely significant for the entire restaurant trade in Calcutta, since the international food-safety norms could soon become mandatory. Grain has done us proud,” says S.K. Khullar, owner of Amber and vice-president of FHRAI, representing the east.

Nitin Kothari, owner of Mocambo and Peter Cat and vice-president of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Eastern India, concurs it’s a feather in the cap for the city. “This is a marvellous achievement, more so since it’s been clinched by a standalone restaurant and not a star property,” says Kothari, also a managing committee member of FHRAI.

The management at the popular Camac Street rendezvous feels the national recognition is “just reward” for the hard work put in by the city’s food business to upgrade standards in recent years, while acknowledging the support and feedback from the consumer.

“We are encouraging our guests to be actively involved in our environment initiatives and have an integrated training programme for our employees, which includes aspects of environment, quality and food safety,” offers Arvind Bhatnagar, head of operations, Grain of Salt.

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