Restaurants, supermarkets and manufacturing units are among 43 food-vending establishments in the city whose licences have been suspended for not complying with the new Food Safety and Standards Authority Act of India (FSSAI).
While the restaurants did not conduct the mandatory periodic health checkup of workers, the food chains failed to label food correctly (not mentioning if it contained non-vegetarian ingredients or food items that could cause allergies). “If hygiene checks are not conducted regularly, there are chances of infectious diseases spreading in the community. Many establishments have their licences suspended as they didn’t conduct these check ups. Those manufacturers who have failed to conduct laboratory exams of the food items have also had their licence suspended,” said Suresh Deshmukh, assistant commissioner (food), FDA.
This is the first time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has used the new FSSAI to suspended licences of food-making and vending establishments. FDA has not revealed the names of the establishments that have been penalised for flouting food safety norms, but the list includes a popular supermarket in Mulund and a manufacturer of a popular brand of scented betel nut.
Between April 2012 and March 2013, the FDA inspected 1,158 establishments and served improvement notices to 266 that flouted FSSAI norms. Until last year, the FDA would issue warning notices while the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) suspended licences, making the process of food safety audit cumbersome. “We would send the list of eateries, food stores which were flouting norms but the civic body would never take any action making the entire exercise futile,” said an official from FDA.
It was only in August 2012 that establishments selling or manufacturing foods were given licences under the new act by the FDA. “Facilities flouting norms are given an improvement notice, after which a fresh inspection is carried out. If they have not improved, we suspend their licences,” said Deshmukh. The maximum punishment for violating the rules is a Rs 10 lakh fine and three years’ imprisonment.
Sources in the FDA said while around 45,000 facilities in the city are under the purview of the FSSAI, the shortage of manpower, makes it impossible to carry out regular inspections. Of the 66 posts of food inspectors sanctioned, only 20 are filled.