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Cooking a controversy
Restaurants dodge rules, dish out unhygienic food to customers
Eateries flout standard food norms

The delicacies at several swanky city restaurants are not as healthy as their ambience. The eateries’ employees cook and serve delicious dishes flouting the norms set by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

Bypassing the rules, cooks prepare food without sporting caps and gloves with brazen support from the restaurant owners or the managements. Serving with hands is more of a rule in the city eateries than an exception.

According to the norms of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, cooking food without wearing caps and gloves is a strict no-no. Wearing gloves while serving is mandatory. Packaged drinking water should be used for cooking and drinking purposes. The penalty for flouting the norms is Rs 2 lakh, life imprisonment or both.

The state eateries came under the purview of the norms on October 1, 2011. The officials of State Food Safety Authority collected 1,230 samples of food in the city. Of them, almost a third — 380 samples to be precise — were substandard. None of the eateries serving unhygienic food has been taken to task yet.

Ashish Kumar, the designated officer of the State Food Safety Authority, said: “Around 3 months ago the judicial panel was set up. Checking the status of trials is not a part of my duty.”

Taking advantage of the callousness of the authorities concerned, most the eateries are minting money at the cost of the citizens’ health. The Telegraph spotted unhygienic practices in the kitchens of some leading food joints. But their managers and owners brazenly claimed that only the footfall matters to them, not the health of the clientele.

Bipin Kumar, the manager of Banjara Fast Food at Mauryalok Complex, said: “Using gloves doesn't signify hygiene. If the government officers come, we will pay the fine.”

Indradev Kumar, the owner of Blue Moon, echoed Bipin. He said: “Taste matters to customers, not the use of gloves or caps. If we use gloves, will there be a rise in the number of customers?”

Caps and gloves are still “strangers” at Banjara Fast Food and Blue Moon. A peek into the kitchen of Kaveri Restaurant at Mauryalok Complex gave The Telegraph a shock. A youth was spotted dressing a chicken placing it under his foot with hands.

When the incident was brought to the notice of the restaurant’s manager, he refused to speak.

The ignorance of the customers has made the job of the food joint owners easier. Hardly anybody challenges them.

A teacher, requesting anonymity, said: “I didn’t know that cooks of food joints should wear caps and gloves while making food. Nor did I know, gloves are mandatory while serving.”

Rakesh Kumar, an engineer, said: “People should be made aware of the standard norms.”