Food Safety authorities, district health officials serve closure notices on 36 hotels in district

Different agencies are on an all-out offensive against hotels that do not keep their backyards tidy. On their part, the hoteliers are complaining that they struggle to keep their hearths burning.

Food Safety authorities and district health officials served closure notices to 36 hotels in different parts of the district, including eight hotels in the Goshree area alone. While official communications said that rotten food was seized from all these centres and their premises were shockingly unhygienic, the hoteliers have a different version to tell.

“The authorities are evoking laws framed way back in 1950s, which are not practical in modern times. For example, these laws prohibit refrigeration and this is allowed in the new Food Safety and Standards Act. Similarly, no hotel can operate by strictly complying to the Pollution Control Board norms, as it would require nearly an acre to run a small eatery,” said M.P. Shiju, district president of the Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association.

The Health authorities, in an official communication released here, said that the drive against hotels found failing to implement public health norms would continue in full throttle during these days. Different teams of Health officials walked into hotels in different parts of the district between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Cooked meat, appam, porotta, iddlies, fish curry, vegetable curry, boiled egg, fungus-infested pickles, and rotten vegetables kept in refrigerator were seized during the drive and destroyed.

“There is no scientific examination of food materials seized from hotels. We are not against the checking, but we demand that it should be done in a scientific manner,” hoteliers said.

They are complaining that authorities, aided by overcharged media, are destroying the industry. If they are to be relied, what appears in the media as rotten are meat and fish kept out of refrigeration for more than 5 hours. “There might be cases of lapses and some hoteliers may be erring in ensuring hygienic practices. We have been conducting awareness classes; 28 such sessions were held in the district itself for hoteliers,” Mr. Shiju said.

These attempts proved to be too little and a bit too late. With public being alarmed at the news about hotels that took them for ride, the authorities could not sit and wait any longer. District Collector P.I. Shiekh Pareed had asked the Health authorities to go strict against hotels where hygiene was the missing ingredient.

Now it remains to be seen whether this knee-jerk reaction is sustained. One death after consuming shawarma bought from Thiruvananthapuram, and it is banned across the district here.

“This is ridiculous, as shawarma cannot be made using stale meat. This, I believe, might have been an odd case of poisoned meat. I challenge any of these authorities to make shawarma out of meat kept refrigerated overnight. The stench will knock you out the moment it is placed on the flame,” said Manoj Thomas, manager of a leading hotel in the city.

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