Celebrating World Food Safety Day, in a first-of-its-kind attempt in the country, Maharashtra’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) kicked off a rating system for restaurants.
Under this system, restaurants will be rated on a scale of zero to five stars on several parameters that emphasise hygiene and customer safety.
In the first phase, the FDA carried out the rating for 30 restaurants. These included 15 in Mumbai, 10 in Pune and five in Nagpur, which got their star ratings at a public function by officials on Thursday.
Pallavi Darade, Commissioner, FDA, spoke to The Times of India, highlighting the purpose of the unique rating system.
She said, “The food hygiene rating given will reflect our inspection findings. The purpose of this scheme is to allow consumers to make informed choices about the places where they eat out. The aim is to reduce the incidence of food-borne illnesses and associated costs to the economy.”
So how does this system help you and me? Let’s find out!
- The restaurants will have to complete an online self-assessment for hygiene, which would be later followed by FDA inspectors inspecting the restaurants.
- The parameters that these restaurants will be rated on include cleanliness, design and facilities, availability of water and soap, non-toxic fittings, walls free of flakes, window nets, sufficient light and air, food thawed hygienically, proper reheating, use of good oil etc.
- The FDA will also use a scoring system to rate how well a food business is run. While the best restaurant will get five stars, the worst will get none.
- Another unique way these assessments will benefit restaurants is the opportunity to earn a tag that identifies them as a “responsible place to eat”. The only way to be rated on this parameter is if the staff maintains hygiene and undergoes periodic health checks, every six months.
- The staff will also have to ensure that the surplus food at the restaurant is not wasted but donated and that their beverages are made in potable water, and cooking methods are hygienic.
- These eateries and joints will also be rated on the advice they give out to customers, whether it is about maintaining a balanced diet or minimising their sugar and salt intake. They can create awareness through posters, display screen, menu etc.
- Restaurants will also receive brownie points if their kitchens are open to consumers who want to check if the food handlers and cooks wear protective gear.
- Eateries that have an effective consumer redressal mechanism in place including WhatsApp numbers and emails will be considered too.
- These are some of the 20 parameters that will be used to examine restaurants.
This system was carried out on a pilot basis. If put into place, it can go a long way in ensuring food security and safety across India.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)