Worried about hygiene of prasad at temples, UP govt launches operation BHOG
The government officials say the project has no interest in interfering in Temple management, it only seeks to train prasad makers and vendors to practice hygiene.Updated: Oct 22, 2020, 13:20 IST
To ensure that devotees get hygienically prepared, healthy and safe Prasad at langars, bhandaras and bhogs at places of worship, Uttar Pradesh food safety and drug administration (FSDA) has launched the ‘blissful hygienic offering to god’ (BHOG) project in the capital city of Lucknow.
“Religious places are an integral part of the Indian society and the food served at these places is considered pure. But one has to also take care of safety. The FSDA wants all religious places to maintain hygiene while preparing prasad. That is why vendors selling prasad outside temples will be trained to prepare it hygienically,” said Shailendra Kumar Singh, designated officer FSDA, Lucknow.
He said that in the first phase, four temples- Hanuman Setu, Aliganj Hanuman temple, Mankamneshwar temple and Gulacheen temple in Aliganj-- and one Gurudwara at Ashiana have been selected for the training of prasad and bhog vendors as per food safety regulations.
“Our aim is to create awareness about best practices right from purchasing raw material to serving the food. We just want them to follow some simple things. For instance, cooks who prepare ladoos would be expected to wear gloves, aprons or caps, clean the utensils daily and use quality food material,” Singh said.
The FSDA will also certify the prasad prepared by the shops in front of these temples. The quality report would be shared with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and those not following the norms will face action.
“The project was conceived in 2015 when Sanjeev Patil, the CEO of Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai, Maharashtra found that foreign pilgrims were sceptical about the hygiene of the prasad and refused to eat it. The first pilot project was started at Siddhivinayak temple,” Singh added.
Singh made it clear that the project doesn’t aim to interfere in the daily work of temples. However, it would train prasad vendors and handlers and carry out routine inspection of temple kitchens.
“FSDA would be doing routine inspection of temple kitchens. However, some temples are sceptical about the whole concept of inspection but we can assure everyone that the department will only guide them for safe food practices and not interfere in their daily activities,” he said.
However, a temple office-bearer said on condition of anonymity, “Temples already take care of hygiene whenever the bhandaras are organised. While we haven’t got anything against the initiative, at the same time, it should be ensured that the food safety department cannot dictate terms to temples over the preparation of bhog.”