Beware, the chicken you eat may be spoilt!

Beware, the chicken you eat may be spoilt!
Highlights

In a recent sting operation conducted by a regional news channel, it was found that a gang was selling discarded and spoilt chicken to second string restaurants at a throwaway price, which in turn was being cooked and served to customers.

Only 2 food inspectors for 15,000 restaurants and eateries
A city like Hyderabad requires 10-15 inspectors: GHMC official

  • Only 234 cases were filed in the past five years
  • The corporation doesn’t have the details of inspections since 2013


In a recent sting operation conducted by a regional news channel, it was found that a gang was selling discarded and spoilt chicken to second string restaurants at a throwaway price, which in turn was being cooked and served to customers.
Only 2 food inspectors for 15,000 restaurants and eateries
The corporation authorities, who have to inspect the restaurants and eateries across the city, are hit by staff crunch. There are only two food inspectors with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), while the city has more than 15,000 restaurants and eateries. Surprise checks are a foregone conclusion and for the inspectors to check restaurants even once a year is a task tougher than cleaning of the Aegean stables.

"We are left with only two food inspectors after two were discharged," said a senior official of the health and sanitation department.

Dead cockroaches, houseflies and other insects in food items are a common sight thanks to the unhygienic conditions at the eateries. Lack of regular monitoring and surprise raids is encouraging a majority of small hotels and restaurants in the city to serve adulterated food, risking the health of its customers. The spurt in diarrhoea cases stands a testimony. As many as 800 cases were reported until July this year.

The recent rise in food poisoning cases has not served as a wake up call to the civic body. One such case that took place at the mess of a private junior college in March this year at Boduppal, resulted in 200 students falling sick and in another similar case 18 people were admitted to hospital after they consumed fast food from a bakery at Hafeez Baba Nagar in April.

GHMC officials said that the main role of food safety officers is to frequently inspect all the food establishments for licences, manufacturing, handling, selling of a food item within the areas under their purview.

The food inspectors should also procure food samples and send them for analysis if necessary. They should ensure that the sample of food is being manufactured, stocked and sold in accordance to the provisions and regulations of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

The officials concerned should also investigate into complaints received from consumers. The GHMC is finding it tough to identify and address the safety hazards in various eating establishments due to lack of staff.

In 2010, about 45 cases were booked and a penalty of Rs 4,500 was collected. As many as 54 cases were registered in 2011 and a fine of Rs 5,400 was charged and in 2012, the food inspectors registered 135 cases with a penalty of Rs13,500. There is no data of cases available for this current year. The Corporation doesn’t have statistics of inspections done in 2013 and 2014.

"A city like Hyderabad needs at least 10-15 food inspectors. In the monsoon season, the chances of an outbreak of waterborne diseases are considerably higher. And all the panic signals are beginning to show. So with the new government in place we are hoping that the recruitment of new food inspectors is completed before any untoward incident happens," said Ravi Kiran, additional commissioner, health and sanitation department, GHMC.

The corporation has been looking forward to having more food safety officers on its rolls. It was also decided to have an officer each for its 18 circles last year. Even staff strengthening seems a distant possibility, say senior officials.

“It might take a year, two years or more also. We do not know,” said a health and sanitation wing official.

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