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Food Safety Raids on Restaurants in Hyderabad – A Reality Check

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Food Safety

Food Safety is the top most priority for restaurants and food outlets in a city like Hyderabad that has a UNESCO tag as the City of Gastronomy – however, are the latest spate of food raids just an arm twisting gimmick as many believe? Or is the department really serious this time?

Last week the task force of Food Safety Department was on an overdrive doing audits and inspections on food establishments. They have released the names of quite a few restaurants where they found them flouting the rules.

In a recent press release they mentioned the names of Rayalaseema Ruchulu and Shah Ghouse. Rameshwaram Café and Baahubali Kitchen are the latest in their list of eateries that have flouted the rules. They found expired items at these places and at a few places the inspection personnel found the conditions to be too unhygienic. The other eateries included Labonel Fine Baking, Baskin Robbins, Kritunga, Hotel Sai Brundavan, Master Chef Restaurant, Resto Bar and KFC., Babylon, Aha Dakshin, Sizzling Joe 3, Khansaab.

Food Safety Team

Commenting on the incidents, Sampath Tummala, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) Hyderabad Chapter Head expressed the need to invest in trained staff who understands safety standards.

“We have not yet figured out the frequency of raids and reasons, but we do welcome the audits that are aimed at ensuring public health, and are in the interest of the customers. Restaurant owners should know that even one unskilled, ill-informed staffer will affect an organization. While keeping the checks and balances in place it is important to ensure standard procedures are followed – for example the FIFO – the First in and First Out system where when a store keeper buys ingredients the older ones must be utilized first – must be practiced.”

Food Safety

Sampath Tummala

“In today’s time when there are so many restaurants opening – it is important for them to not just ensure taste but also invest in trained personnel who understand food safety protocols. The department insists on a set number of food handlers depending on the number of staff – which must be followed – and these handlers must know the standards.”

In fact, a recent training session that NRAI Hyderabad Chapter in association with FSSAI and GHMC organized had in addition to nutrition, personal hygiene, and grooming also trained restaurant staff is clean food, on banned food colours, identifying adulteration, understanding the concepts like shelf life, cold storage and bringing awareness on which type of vessels to be used for cooking. The food handlers were given an examination and certification with a validity for two years was issued.

Food Handlers Training Session

“Focus on consistency and the bottom line is investing in staff, invest in training them and put the checks and balances in place, he reiterated.

While checks and balances are right in their place, and these routine checks are in the interest of the customer and will keep the retailers and the business owners adapt good practices – like several government rule books the food safety guidelines is fraught with grey areas that need addressing.

For many years now there are allegations that these checks and audits are done more for arm twisting the business owners. And, that there are several outlets that are flouting the guidelines, which unscrupulously run their business while the authorities look elsewhere.

This claim does not need additional proof as there are evidences that come our way on a daily basis if one eats out regularly. The many bakeries and eateries where people have had several bad experiences are shared regularly online. And, this is despite the periodic checks that make it to news headlines.

Meanwhile, only a bunch of names make the headlines, which provides fodder to these allegations. Is it witch hunt or genuine concern to address issues is a question that common people ask. And, it is up to the department to clear these doubts, and it is only possible when the department works with the restaurants and restaurant associations in raising awareness and ensuring rules are followed by each and every food outlet, and manufacturers at all times.

Rayalaseema RUchulu

Rayalaseema Ruchulu Festival Thali

When we approached Uttam Reddy, Owner of Rayalaseema Ruchulu. He stated, “We are a 23-year-old brand and we thrive on our standards of practice, our protocols, food quality and hygiene. I personally take care of these in my restaurants. We take feedback from our customers on a daily basis to improve our service and food. And, we take 100 percent responsibility for this slip at our restaurants and we are addressing them with immediate effect.”

The officials found a milk packet past its date of expiry, infested maida and tamarind and unlabeled cashew nut in addition to Goli Soda bottles whose license expired last month.

Uttam Reddy calls it an avoidable human error, which he takes responsibility for but also points out that the pictures being used in media highlighting RR do not belong to his restaurant. He said, “Images that are being used in articles mentioning our name are not ours. This is misleading and damaging our brand.”

Thanks to the publicity the restaurant has been receiving visits from various media – and he says the manager is welcoming them all to cover the place – we have built this brand with passion and are proud of it. Our customers trust, and we promise them to take this set back positively and be more careful. However, the false propaganda is painful – he laments.

food safety

NRAI Training Session with FSSAI & GHMC

It is surely important for restaurant owners to take the FSSAI guidelines seriously, and train their staff well. Especially, restaurants that are riding on the booming food business wave and are opening several outlets across the city, must also invest in safety and trained food handlers.

On the other hand, the department must proactively work with the food sector, address the ambiguity in food safety guidelines, and be consistent in their inspection mechanism. This periodic tamasha like the monsoon rains and Hyderabad roads is leading to no constructive changes in a city like Hyderabad where the food business is on a high like never before. A long term strategy is the ask of the day.

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