Saturday, August 18, 2012

Concept paper on introducing a Grading system for the Hotels and other Food Business Operators

Self regulation means that the rules which govern the behavior in the market are enforced by the people whose behavior is to be governed.  It is a collective activity, involving all or the majority of participants and done mostly on a voluntary basis.  This would ultimately benefit the participants.

In the aftermath of the death due to food poisoning at a small wayside outlet at Thiruvananthapuram, the Commissionerate of Food Safety was forced to enforce the newly enacted law, the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 with the Rules, Regulations and standards made there under.  The department has taken a pragmatic approach in the implementation which is evident from the figures of the hotels closed down.  When, on 04.08.2012, about 1200 hotels and premises of other FBOs were inspected, only 73 were closed.  It may be pertinent to note that improvement notices were issued to over 696 establishments.  The public is scared to venture out for eating out in the evening.  This is a stage of transformation for our people who relished every kind of food – Chinese, Arabic, North Indian, Punjabi and what not.  The sales of hotels dropped.  Most of the industry association have taken this as an incident as a time for  introspection and has offered their willingness to associate with the Government to enforce self-regulation.  It is necessary to provide an opportunity to the public to differentiate between the good and the bad.  It is proposed to introduce a grading system for the different class of FBOs who are in the field.  This concept paper is prepared for discussion with the industry leaders and to evolve out a strategy for joint certification of FBOs.
1.           Class/Sub class of FBOs (in the first instance) :
a)           Hotels & Restaurants
i.                    Wayside eateries (Thattukada)
ii.                  Medium sale hotels (Janatha)
iii.                Classified hotels
b)           Bakeries
c)           Caterers
2.           The Grades :
A Grade: The ultimate in the food safety.

B Grade: Those who comply with all the stipulation of Grade-C. But additional conditions like purchase of raw materials from suppliers with Registration/License, testing of water every 3 months and use of RO plan, proper self waste disposal shall be complied.

C Grade: The lowest grade awarded to any FBOs under the above class. They shall strictly comply with the basic requirements of Food Safety and Standards Act, Rules and Regulations (the 30 point guidelines of CFS may be taken up as the starting point).
3.           The procedure for grading :
a)                 Any FBO who wish to apply for grade shall submit the following documents.
i.                    License under Food Safety and Standards Act.
ii.                  Checklist showing the compliance of guidelines.
iii.                Application form duly filled.
iv.                Photos/videos.
b)                 A district level committee headed by the Collector as the Chairman with following members shall inspect the eating establishment.
i.                    District Food Safety Officer (Designated Officer)
ii.                  District Medical Officer of Health
iii.                Representative of the respective association
iv.                Secretary, Tourism Promotion Council.
v.                  Health officer of the concerned Corporation/ Municipality
c)                 The District Grading Committee shall make suitable recommendation to the Commissioner of Food Safety.  If recommended for grading the Commissioner of Food Safety shall publish the same in local news papers and on the website, with the intention to give grading to the establishment and invite public remarks complaints from the general public with in a period of 15/30 days.  The public, who so demand, shall be given an opportunity to visit the kitchen and other facilities during this period and shall be explained how strict adherence of the standards are maintained.
d)                 The complaints can be sent in writing, by e-mail or posted in the website (to be designed in the form of
e)                  An independent evaluation agency like ……………………….. shall evaluate the complaints/remarks of the public.  The complaints are disposed off by the agency and the information is passed on to the District Grading Committee.
f)                   If the committee, after evaluation, is satisfied with the grades awarded by the independent agency, then it shall hold a public hearing, during which the complaints are heard.  If satisfied, the committee shall recommend the grade and the same is notified by the Commissioner of Food Safety.
4.           Approval and Award :
The grade given will be announced and awarded in a public function once or twice every year.  The graded establishment will be permitted to display a logo and certificate for a period of one year at the establishment and all the advertisements.
5.           District and State Level Award :
a)                 The District Level Committee will select one establishment from each district for district level Food Safety Award (usually from A Grade establishments). The winner will get certification and award prize of Rs. …………..
b)                 A State Level Committee headed by the Commissioner of Food Safety with Senior Officer of Tourism, Health, Municipal Administration, State level representatives of the 4 associations shall conduct a joint inspection and select the winner for State Level Food Safety Award.  The winner shall be given the award by the Hon’ble Chief Minister or Health Minister according to convenience along with a public function organized jointly by the Commissionerate of Food Safety and the Associations.