To prevent the spread of communicable diseases, the State Health Department has made it mandatory for all cooks and other kitchen staff in hotels and eateries to undergo a medical check-up and obtain a health card.
Announcing this on Friday, Health and Family Welfare Minister U.T. Khader said the department had geared up to enforce the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. The health card system was part of the enforcement, he said.
Employers should arrange for the medical check-up of their kitchen staff and ensure that they obtain a health card, failing which they would be liable for punishment, he said. “Most customers are not aware whether the kitchen staff, who prepare food, are healthy or suffering from any disease. Compulsory medical examination for kitchen staff will help curb the spread of diseases from hotels. The cards should be renewed every year,” the Minister said.
Admitting that shortage of food safety inspectors was a major hitch in enforcing the Food Safety and Standards Act, the Minister said of the 300 sanctioned posts, the department had only 177 staff. The recruitment process of more inspectors is on, he said.
An intensive awareness campaign would be launched across the State soon to highlight the features of the Act, he said. He said as per the provisions of the Act, all those involved in the food business (manufacturing to marketing) should compulsorily register with the department and obtain a licence. “All those involved in the manufacture of food items, storage, distribution, sale and import will be covered under the Act. The licences can be obtained from the district and State-level food safety officials,” he said.
Admitting that the State government is still ill-equipped to enforce the Act, the Minister said the required machinery would be put in place by August. Of nearly three lakh establishments in the food business across the State, only 1,01,687 have licences. Replying to queries, he said there are five food-testing laboratories in the State, apart from six private authorised labs in Bangalore.