A strict food safety regime, where people will not have to be apprehensive about eating out, will be in vogue in the State within three years, Food Safety Commissioner Biju Prabhakar has said.
Inaugurating a one-day workshop on ‘streetside vendors and food safety’, jointly organised by the SEWA-Union and the Kerala Street Vendors’ Forum (KSVF) here on Monday, Mr. Prabhakar said the recent happenings in Thiruvananthapuram and elsewhere after the death of one person due to food poisoning had got the public thinking more on the safety aspects of eating out.
Hotels had already lost about 60 per cent of their business, according to hotel sources themselves, he said, stating that only few hotels had managed to get back to normal business.
A fast food trend that was rapidly catching up in the State had brakes applied on it, though the department had not taken any drastic step other than making clear what the law said.
Street vendors or the ‘thattukada’ sector was yet to feel a serious impact of the developments, most probably because there was no stocking of food for the next day.
Still, unless street food vendors upgraded their hygiene levels, they were bound to lose customers gradually, Mr. Prabhakar said.
Stating that a grading system, based on the hygienic practices and standards adhered to by each hotel and food seller, would soon be introduced, Mr. Prabhakar said street vendors too would have to go in for food safety registration and certification, which was being made mandatory.
It would cost only Rs.100 a year, he told the gathering of street vendors at the workshop, adding that future training programmes, rehabilitation programmes, campaigns and the entire gamut of government initiatives for the sector would require such registration.
The aim was to bring into force a strict food safety regime, in which hotels or street vendors who were not registered or did not adhere to safety and hygiene norms would not be allowed to do business, he said.
Citing examples of the law already being enforced strictly, Mr. Prabhakar said the Indian Coffee House at Thampanoor had been served an ultimatum to shift base from its current location, since there was a drainage adjacent to it and that could not be allowed under any circumstance.
Joint Food Safety Commissioner K. Anil Kumar, SEWA-Union State secretary Sonia George, and KSVF State president Sadashivan Nair spoke.