Mushrooming roadside eateries spark health concerns in U.T.

Health hazard: The food items are prepared in the open in a highly polluted environment, say residents.   | Photo Credit: KUMAR SS

Several makeshift eateries, including street food joints, have come up near various institutions and government offices in Puducherry, selling a wide range of food items that pose a risk to people’s health.

Hawkers selling food items like fried snacks and fruit juice outside government hospitals are a common sight. The authorities say they have made several efforts to remove them, but they just return to the spot the next day.

“There is no quality check on the oil and other ingredients used in the preparation of these food items. Customers, who patronize such joints due to lower prices, would be at risk of developing health complications,” a health officer said.

“Cleanliness is another area of concern, as a majority of them do not have proper arrangements. The food items are prepared in the open in a highly polluted environment. A few eateries are located near drains and also dump food waste into them,” says Lakshmiganthan, a resident of Saram.

A majority of the eateries are unorganised and don’t have a licence under the Food Safety and Standards Act to operate or serve food to the public. “Street food, which is probably more easily available, is free from any supervision. As a result, hygiene is being compromised. This has led to adulteration and reuse of substances that can make the food unhealthy. We cannot even collect food samples for chemical analysis because they [the eateries] do not have a permanent address,” an official said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has already flagged the possible adverse implications of the unregulated growth of food business operators on public health.

Inspections conducted at 89 outlets revealed that 45% of them were functioning in unhygienic conditions and not in accordance with the norms prescribed under the Food Safety and Standards Rules, 2011.

According to the report, food items classified as high risk were being cooked and displayed in the open outside restaurants/hotels. Besides, the general practices adopted with regard to storage of food items were found to be “unhygienic and unfit”. “The Department of Food Safety will be conducting drives across the coastal town to ensure that food vendors obey the rules. We have asked them to register themselves with FSSAI and display the registration certificate,” an official said.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 4:14:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/mushrooming-roadside-eateries-spark-health-concerns-in-ut/article36767174.ece

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