Health cards for employees of hotels, eateries across State planned

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Bangalore: Health Minister U T Khader on Friday said his department was considering issuing health cards to employees of all hotels and eateries in the State to ensure they are hygienic, healthy and fit to work.

In the light of the Food Safety and Security Act (FSSA), the department is pushing for a more hygienic environment at hotels and roadside eateries, he said.

“As part of the project, we are planning to issue health cards to hotels and eateries certifying their product quality is good for consumption,” said Khader.

If the plan is implemented, health cards will be issued to hotel and eatery workers after they undergo a physical examination by local government doctors, the minister said.

Currently, the department is formulating an action plan to put the scheme in place. There are as many as three lakh registered hotels and eateries in the State.

On the strict implementation of the Act, Khader said the department was trying to recruit more food safety inspectors.
Now, there are sanctioned posts for 377 food inspectors. Of these, 117 posts have been filled and 260 are vacant.

He said there had been a lot of talk over the last four years, but little had been done due to lack of political will to implement the FSSA.

“We are looking at fresh ideas to strengthen and implement the Act. I also suggest that there needs to be decentralisation of power to act against those violating the FSSA. So, we are looking at assistant commissioners at the district level, and tahsildars at the taluk level to be nodal officers for food inspectors,” said Khader.

In the last four years, only 425 cases of adulteration and 225 cases of ‘misbranding’ have been filed against hotels, eateries, food and grocery stores, etc.

Of these, only in four cases the department has fined the violators. It has collected a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh in these four cases.

The department officials claim that the rest of the cases are pending in various courts.

The department officials said the government would also direct eateries and hotels and grocery and food stores to display notice boards indicating they are covered under the FSSA.
They said the government would be giving out the numbers and designations of the district officers and the locations where citizens can send food samples for testing.

“In Bangalore, we have two government labs to test food. Along with them, we have seven private labs which can also conduct tests on food samples to detect their quality. Citizens can approach these labs for getting food samples tested and then register a complaint with our district officers,” Khader said.

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