V. Geetanath

Raids reveal violation of MCH rules

HYDERABAD: When MCH officials conducted a raid on the famous Alpha Hotel near Secunderabad station and collected stale food samples from the kitchen and its bakery two days ago it might have sent a wave of revulsion among many.

Interestingly, the hotel management was `warned' by sanitation officials to take corrective steps six months ago when they conducted a `surprise inspection.' Clean kitchen, workers' hygiene, proper storage and separation of vegetarian and non-vegetarian kitchens were advised.

Apparently, none of these steps were taken forcing authorities to raid the place again and send the samples for analysis. This is not a case in isolation. Wherever such teams have carried out checks, they have unfailingly reported about bad food and unclean surroundings cutting across various kinds of food establishments, be it a café, restaurant or star hotel.

Only recently similar samples were picked up from a star hotel in Begumpet, swank restaurants and pubs in a shopping mall and cafes with the threat of `sealing' them if the lab tests prove to be decisive. But, cases reaching the courts are minimal and convictions even more rare, admit senior officials.

"We cannot prevent conduct of business till filing of a case and legal processes are completed. We have only been cancelling trade licenses. We can't stop the hotel from running under a new name and there are political pressures too. We also do not have adequate staff to monitor eating establishments continuously," say officials.

Food inspectors

MCH has only six food inspectors for all its seven circles and each is set a specific target for collecting samples. The Assistant Medical and Health Officers (AMOH) are supposed to monitor eating-places, check for cleanliness in hotels and even hygiene of working staff.

Yet, officials confess 90 per cent of the eating establishments irrespective of category digress from hygiene norms. The veterinary wing is checking whether `officially stamped' meat is being purchased from Chengicherla abattoir or illegally procured from slaughterhouses where quality is not guaranteed. But as Chief Veterinary Officer P. Venkateshwar Reddy says: "We are only trying to make hotel managements aware of hygiene standards."