Most hotels in Karnataka yet to obtain food safety licence

Most hotels in Karnataka yet  to obtain food safety licence

Food Safety and Standards Act has to be enforced by August 4

Most restaurants and eateries in Bangalore have not yet obtained the mandatory licence from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSA) as stipulated in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, as Karnataka lags behind other states in implementing the law. 

The issuance of licence means a hotel is serving quality food prepared in hygienic conditions. The Act mandates that hotels with a turnover of Rs 12 lakh and above obtain a licence from the FSSA after complying with the necessary regulations. Hotels having lesser annual turnover have to register with the FSSA. In Bangalore alone, at least 5,000-6,000 eateries fall in small, medium and big categories. 

At present, the State issues trade licences to commercial establishments, including restaurants, street carts and milk vendors. Overall, 70,000 such licences have been issued. At present, the High Court of Karnataka has granted a stay order on the regulations of the Act on a petition filed by the hotels’ association whose members contend that the law has been designed “keeping in mind the packaged food industry which is more prevalent in the west and does not suit the Indian way of serving and eating.” 

Since the Act is to be implemented by August 4, 2014, the FSSA has geared up to raise awareness among citizens about the law and its merits. It says it will start IEC (Information, Education and Communication) activities in schools and colleges as canteens also have to abide by the guidelines of the Act. 

Ramamurthy, Secretary of Bruhat Bangalore Hotels’ Association, said the entire Act had been formulated without taking the consent of the food industry. “The Indian food is freshly cooked, unlike in the west where most food items are pre-packaged in labs,” he explained. “The ingredients of every food item cannot be displayed. We are not agains the Act per se. But it should be amended keeping in mind the Indian food and the way it is cooked and served.” 

Ramamurthy claimed that some of the regulations were “too harsh”. For instance, the Act says that food should be first tested in a laboratory attached to the hotel or restaurant and a qualified person should be attached with it. “How is this even possible for mid-segment or small hotels and eateries,” he asked. 

A member of the association pointed out that the State government had just four such labs across Karnataka. How can it expect the restaurants to have their own labs, he said. The association has conveyed its reservations about the Act to the State government which assured to forward them to the Centre, he added. 

Dr J Kumar, deputy director-cum-joint director (officiating), FSSA, said the Act was people and trader friendly and there was a need to raise awareness about it. He said the hotel industry’s concerns about the Act would be conveyed to the Centre. 

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