Water and other ingredients used is suspected to be contaminated

Locating a juice shop in the city fully complying with the guidelines prescribed by the Commissioner of Food Safety may be a Herculean task this summer.

With shops mushrooming in every nook and cranny in Kochi, Food Safety officials seem groping in the dark on how to curb the violations.

Even though reports on use of contaminated ice have come down gradually, they admitted that the majority of the shops store ice in thermocol boxes against the prescribed rules. As per the guidelines, ice should not be stored in polystyrene boxes, but in freezers or ice boxes.

Many juice shop owners now claim that they use water supplied in cans by private manufacturers of bottled drinking water. But there is little check on whether these suppliers meet the safety standards.

Food safety guidelines recommend that the water being used should be from a source of impeccable quality and the quality of the water source should be tested every six months at a government-approved analytical laboratory. Shop owners should also keep these reports in the shop.

A ride along the main city roads reveals that only a few shops adhere to another major guideline recommending prominent display of the licence or registration details as per the Food Safety and Standards (FSSA) Act, 2006.

Use of low quality milk, especially that brought from outside the State, is also rampant in juice shops offering milk shakes.

The Food Safety Department has no clues on whether the shops were storing milk in freezers well beyond the expiry period.

Customers can report cases where they found juice being prepared in unhygienic environments.

They should also ensure that shop owners clean the implements used for preparing juices mainly mixers, juicers and strainers after every use.

The Food Safety guidelines also prescribe that the refrigerator and freezer should be cleaned regularly and the last date on which it was cleaned should be displayed on the fridge.

All food items, including water, in the shops should be stored in covered containers of food grade quality. The fruits should be of good quality, with no trace of fungus. The fruits should be washed and refrigerated.

All employees in juice shops should have medical fitness certificates. They should strictly follow hygienic practices in handling food. Those with any skin conditions or infectious diseases should not be allowed as employees in food businesses.

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