“We found a cockroach in our food!” says an online review of a well-known restaurant in the city. There are similar complaints of people finding unpleasant surprises in their food when they eat out. For the large number of citizens eating out, and for some for whom it is out of necessity, the question of how safe the food they are eating remains a mystery.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials too were not disappointed when they conducted surprise raids recently on popular restaurants and resto-pubs. Officials who were part of the teams that raided these restaurants described what they saw as “shocking”, with many of them having found unhygienic kitchens behind the plush dining areas despite the customers being charged exorbitantly for the food they are served.
“We have fined more than 50 restaurants in the recent months. We have decided to conduct such raids at least twice a week to ensure that restaurants follow safety norms and hygiene standards,” said Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, BBMP.
CCTV cameras soon
The revelations from the recent inspections prompted the BBMP to make it mandatory for all hotels with a separate kitchen and dining area to have closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in their kitchens to enable customers to see how and where their food is being prepared.
N. Manjunath Prasad, Commissioner, BBMP, said by bringing in such guidelines, the civic body was hoping for them to act as a deterrent.
Chandrashekhar Hebbar, president of Bruhat Bangalore Hotels Association, however, said, “We take our own precautions to ensure cleanliness and hygiene. Customers come only if the hotel and food are clean. Hotels that are unhygienic usually do not get business. Self-regulation is always better.”
Street food next
While established hotels and restaurants are still on the radar of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), street food, which is probably more easily available, is free from any supervision. However, BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said the palike was first focussing on hotels and restaurants, and would look at street food in the next phase of inspections.
Parashuram: I won’t say all street food is bad, but some of the stalls are located near unhygienic places. Disposal of waste from such carts is also often unscientific.
The various eating joints coming up in the city means various food options. But these small food joints often compromise on hygiene. An example is dumping garbage right outside the stalls.
Syed Muneer: It is common to see rodents and pests on the premises of most restaurants and fast food eateries in the city, apart from slimy substances on surfaces/equipment, utensils/surfaces in contact with raw meat, and insects in the food. The basic rule of washing hands before handling food is also not followed.
Carolyn Simon, food blogger: Considering the increase in the number of restaurants, delivery units and home chefs in our city, most of them don’t comply with the food safety standards set by FSSAI and most are not even licensed. This has led to the adulteration of food to make it more appealing and sometimes even reusing substances that can make it highly unhealthy.