Raids held last week saw four eateries being closed down

The association of hoteliers will write to its members to follow cleanliness guidelines and serve quality food. The step follows a crackdown against stale food and unhygienic conditions in many eateries. Various agencies including the Kochi Corporation had conducted a series of raids in around 100 eateries of the district. The raids that were held during last week saw four eateries in the city being closed down, and notices served on 60 others. The Corporation had also banned the sale of shawarma for a week and banned sale of badam milk till further orders.

The All Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association would issue circulars to its members urging them to follow hygiene practices and guidelines in its units, said Aziz, district secretary of the Association. The organisation was also planning to approach court against the interference of multiple agencies in the functioning of the eateries under the pretext of inspection, he said.

The Association will issue notices to all its 10,000-odd members of Ernakulam district to follow cleanliness guidelines this week. It had earlier taken such initiatives in the district for ensuring that good food is served through the outlets. Such steps had yielded good results, he said.

While admitting that some eateries could be selling stale food which is made in unhygienic conditions, Mr. Aziz said that the awareness programmes organised by the Association would help to improve the situation. At the same time, he also maintained that the situation was not that bad as portrayed by various agencies.

He was also critical of the inspections carried out by the Health Wing of the Kochi Corporation in hotels and restaurants. With the enactment of the Food Safety law, the right to carry out such inspections is vested with the Food Safety officers and not with the civic authorities. The inspections by the squads of District Medical Officer also cannot be justified, he said.

Mr. Aziz suggested that the officials who are legally empowered to check the eating places should periodically inspect the premises to ensure that laws and guidelines are strictly followed.

Defending the action of the Kochi Corporation in raiding the eateries, T.K. Ashraf, chairman of the Health Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation, said that the civic body drew powers to act in such cases from the Kerala Municipalities Act.

The Act empowers the secretaries or officials authorised by him in municipalities to act against sale of stale food and the preparation of food in unhygienic conditions. The Corporation officials acted well within the law and the crackdown against stale food will continue in the coming days, he said.

The hotels that were served notices following the raids will have to get back to the Corporation this week listing out the improvements that they have made in their institutions as the time to file the replies will end this week. If the hotels fail to introduce the changes suggested by the officials, they will be served notices to close down. The officials of the Corporation will process the replies filed by the hotels and future course of action will be decided after that, he said.

Squads of the Kochi Corporation will inspect the roadside outlets that open during the evenings in the wake of Ramzan fasting. They will carry out intensive inspections till Onam. Inspections in hostels and residential places of migrant labourers will also continue, he said.

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