Post carcass meat scare, Kolkata corporation to certify street food vendors
When you stop at a roadside eatery in Kolkata to gorge on that parantha or spicy mutton biryani, you possibly have no idea of its quality. Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has taken up an initiative to train and certify food vendors. The certificates will also serve as quality indicators for the hundreds of thousands of customers who eat at roadside eateries every day.
The move close on the heels of the discovery of a racket that had been selling carcass meat to shopkeepers and eateries in and around Kolkata for at least seven years. Many panicked consumers are avoiding meat or all kinds for more than a month and eateries have witnessed sharp footfall. Police have so far arrested 10 people for selling meat retrieved from dead animals left in dumping grounds in five districts.
According to senior KMC officials, the city has about 50,000 street food vendors. The authorities will conduct a month-long workshop for these eatery owners in July.
“After the workshop, we will give them a month to upgrade their products and food processing standards as specified by us. After that, our officials will check the quality of food and provide the vendors with certificates,” said KMC’s mayor-in-council (health) Atin Ghosh.
Ghosh said KMC’s drive will involve all eateries serving cooked food. Those serving tea and biscuits or snacks such as pani puri and puffed rice-based food will not be included.
According to Ghosh, all food will be graded from “A” to “D”, with “A” signifying excellent and “D,” bad. “Vendors will have to display the certificates at a prominent place so that customers are aware of the quality of food they are consuming,” Ghosh said.
Vendors have welcomed the move. “My outlet is 60 years old. I inherited it from my father-in-law. So far I have not received any complaint about the quality of food I sell. But there is always scope for improvement. I will attend the workshop,” said Madhu Mondal, who runs an eatery on Southern Avenue in south Kolkata.
Ghosh claimed KMC could be the first civic body in the country to undertake this initiative.
In 2017, after the completion of a three-year project, a Denmark-based NGO published a report, “Kolkata Street Food - A hygienic perspective.” The report said vendors in the city have reasonable knowledge about hygiene but not all of them put that knowledge into practice. There is scope for improvement, the report said.