Imagine cutting into a slice of cake and finding a creepy crawly staring at you.
This is what happened to me a few months ago when I bought myself a slice of fruitcake from a well known bakery in Gurugram.
While the immediate reaction from most people would be to simply discard the food item and perhaps never return to the establishment, I did something else.
I decided to bring this incident to the notice of the bakery as well as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
What does the FSSAI do?
The safety and quality of the food served in the restaurants and eateries are governed under the FSSAI. It operates under the Health Ministry and is required to regulate and monitor the manufacture, processing, distribution, sale, and import of food to ensure its safety for human consumption.
As a consumer, you have the right to get the food article analysed by the Food Analyst as per the provisions of the Act. You will have to pay the prescribed fee to the Food Analyst for the analysis.
If the article of food is found to be adulterated/mis-branded/contaminated or does not conform to the standards prescribed under the Act or the Regulations, the consumer will be entitled to get a refund on their payment.
Here’s how you can lodge a complaint if you find a restaurant unhygienic or its food adulterated/contaminated.
1. If the establishment does not have a license
The first thing you ought to find out is if the restaurant/hotel has a valid license.
As per Section 31 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, no person can commence or carry out a food business without a license. Whoever does so will be liable to imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months as well as a fine which may extend to five lakh rupees.
Remember, as a consumer you have every right to ask and check the license.
2. External or inappropriate particle in your food
As mentioned above, on several occasions, we find external particles in our food items, sometimes even at restaurants.
Section 54 of the FSSAI Act states that any person who sells, stores, distributes or imports food which contains inappropriate or extraneous matter, will be liable to a penalty which may extend to one lakh rupees.
3. Dirty and unhygienic kitchen
Being in the food industry, one of the most important things is the maintenance of a neat and tidy kitchen.
Any restaurant owner who keeps the manufacturing area of the food or processes any edible article in an unhygienic or unsanitary condition will be liable to a penalty which may extend to one lakh rupees (Section 56), and this noncompliance of the owner can also invite raids.
If you wish to bring any of the above issues to the notice of the concerned authorities, here is what you should do.
1. The Food Licensing website, which is part of FSSAI, is the portal to lodge a complaint.
2. Click on ‘Share your concern’ button and choose between–packaged food or food premise.
3. Once you click on the icon that is relevant to your complaint, a set of follow up questions will be asked of you.
4. You will also be asked to upload a picture and mention the FSSAI number of the establishment.
5. Go through the questions and tick the ones that are relevant to your complaint.
6. In the description box, mention your concern as clearly as possible.
7. Do also fill out the details of the state and district where the establishment is located.
8. Remember to include your name, phone number, and e-mail address for all future communication.
9. Once you have submitted the form with all the requisite details, you will be given a reference number for all future communication.
10. There is also a tab where you can enter the reference number to track the progress.
While there is legal recourse, it is imperative that we take the necessary action to safeguard our health and ensure the standards.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)