Licence must to serve food in hotels

Outlets with turnover exceeding Rs 12 lakh need to follow new rule

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will be introducing an online licensing system for all food joints under which hotels and restaurants with an annual turnover exceeding Rs 12 lakh need to take a licence either from state or central authority, depending on their area of operation. Smaller outlets in small cities and towns with a business turnover up to Rs 12 lakh a year, on the other hand, have to take a licence from local authority. This was conveyed to the FSSAI central advisory committee by its chief executive officer V N Gaur.

A licensing process is already in testing phase and the licensing scheme would be rolled out first in Delhi, said an official.

The FSSAI is working with the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, on local level food safety plans and how to improve the food safety standards in villages.

The new scheme was preceded by a pilot project carried out here before Commonwealth Games, 2010 for upgrading the safety and quality of food served in eating joints in the capital thronged by foreign visitors during the games.

With the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 since August 5, 2011 a new food safety regime has come into being with the promises of bringing in regulation and transparency in the Rs 8 lakh crore Indian food market.

Even though the act was passed five years ago and the Food Safety and Standards Authority was set up in 2008, it took three years for the authority to enact the umbrella law amalgamating seven laws and executive orders.

In the absence of any regulatory system in place, there is hardly any legal way at the moment to monitor the quality of food served in restaurants.

Gaur said registering authorities would be within easy reach of food business operators and a food safety helpline (1800-11-2100) was operational. He admitted that it was a challenging task and a set of rules and regulations would be issued by the FSSAI to facilitate the registration process.

The authority wants to reach out to villagers and panchayat institutions as well during the 12th plan period for which additional resources have been sought from the Planning Commission. One main objective is to focus attention on street food vendors as millions consume food items offered by them.

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