Watch where you eat
This is a discussion on Watch where you eat within the RTI News & Discussion forums, part of the RTI News, Circulars and Decisions category; As reported by Sharad Vyas at Times of India, Mumbai on 26 February, 2009 MUMBAI: Next to cricket, eating out is the urbanite's favourite hobby, and the number of restaurants ...
- 02-26-2009, 10:29 AM #1
Watch where you eat
As reported by Sharad Vyas at Times of India, Mumbai on 26 February, 2009
MUMBAI: Next to cricket, eating out is the urbanite's favourite hobby, and the number of restaurants springing up all over the city is testament to this. But what goes on behind the closed doors of the kitchen is something only the restaurant staff and the officials of the BMC's health department is privy to.
An inspection of 113 popular restaurants, eateries and road-side joints in south Mumbai and Bandra (W) by the BMC reveals that all's not well in the city's kitchens when it comes to hygiene and safety.
From serving stale food to cobwebbed walls and ceilings, the health department's annual inspection report for the period between January 2007 and March 2008 has served up a goulash that would put any diner off his food. Presence of mice and other pests, uncovered and dirty vessels, and cooks and waiters who have been hired without the mandatory health checkup are some of the more common violations.
The Inspection Reports (IR)-which are made by a sanitary inspector when an owner applies for a licence as well as annually during random checks-were obtained by TOI under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The report revealed that 60 of the 113 restaurants were operating without the licence (for establishment and trade) under Section 394 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, or were found carrying out a trade other then what was approved in their licence. The report also stated that a number of the restaurants inspected did not have working fire-fighting equipment.
The BMC has a set of 20 mandatory conditions that the restaurant must follow.
The penalties, however, feel officials are not harsh enough to ensure that restaurants clean up their act. According to the present laws, an erring hotelier can only be penalised in court for not having a mandatory licence.
Unlike in the United States or the United Kingdom, where failure to maintain a certain standard of hygiene and cleanliness can result in the restaurant being shut down, the powers the BMC officials are restricted to punitive measures.
Every time an inspection report is issued to a restaurant, only one-fourth of its security deposit (an amount that is paid to the BMC at the time of applying for a licence) is forfeited. The lengthy process of issuing an IR over and over again does not guarantee that the recommendations will be carried out.
In such a scenario, officials say that all they can do is hope that owners take heed and spruce up their kitchens. "What we need is a stronger legal set up, more guidelines and more staff,'' said an official. There are only 120 inspectors for 24 wards to keep track of 13,309 licensed restaurants across the city.
Source: Watch where you eat-Mumbai-Cities-The Times of India
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