Many outlets found using low-quality milk, ice and water

The Commissioner of Food Safety has issued a set of guidelines to be followed necessarily by juice shops across the State, as prescribed by Section 30 (d) of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006.

The Commissioner said the guidelines had been issued as many food poisoning cases were being reported by customers of juice shops. A majority of these shops were using milk, ice and water of suspect quality.

All juice shops should have FSSA licences or registration, which should be displayed prominently. The water and ice should be safe and of the prescribed quality.

The fruits, sugar, nuts and other additives used to make juices or milk shakes should be bought only from shops or outlets or traders who had a FSSA licence and the purchase bills should be kept. All packed food items should have the necessary label information. The details of purchase — name of the shop/trader, quantity, price and so on — should be entered in a register systematically and should be produced for inspection.

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. These reports should be kept in the shop.

Store properly

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. Ice should not be stored in polystyrene boxes, but in freezers or ice boxes. Prepared juice should not be stored for long in the fridge.

Food safety officials pointed out that most of the shops were storing milk in freezers well beyond the expiry period for use in milk shakes. This was an unsafe practice.

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.

The environment in which juice was prepared should be clean and the implements used for preparing juices such as mixers, juicers and strainers should be cleaned after every use. The refrigerator and freezer should be cleaned regularly and the last date on which it was cleaned should be displayed on the fridge.

The Food Safety officials have warned of cancellation of registration/licence if these conditions are violated. A period of three weeks has been allowed within which all juice shops should ensure that they are equipped to follow all FSSA guidelines.

Food Safety wing will start inspections on December 1 and juice shops which are found to be failing in hygiene and safety standards will have to face legal action, the Food Safety Commissioner has warned.