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Hygiene Alert!! food outlets across the country to get hygiene rating

NEW DELHI: At his dhaba in south Delhi’s Kidwai Nagar, Irfan has his cooks wash their hands before preparing dishes. Sweets are kept covered , he claims. As with most small eateries, Irfan’s dhaba is not registered.
Soon, outlets such as Irfan’s may have to start complying with more stringent standards, with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) working on new norms on hygiene and cleanliness at food outlets across the country.

All food outlets, from small dhabas to five-star hotels , will be graded according to their level of food hygiene and cleanliness.

This will mean that a dhaba in your neighbourhood could be rated as level-1 , if cooking practices measure up to the minimum standards laid down by the authority, while a fine dining restaurant may end up getting the top billing. It is also possible for restaurants belonging to the same chain to get different ratings.

FSSAI has also mandated all food outlets to register with their respective state authorities to keep a count of the number of eateries in every state. Besides food joints, the authority also plans to lay down basic norms of compliance for street vendors and hawkers, in collaboration with the housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry, to maintain food hygiene.

While the standards will be finalized over the next few months, the deadline for mandatory registration expires in February 2014. Failure to get a licence or get registration done will lead to a penalty. The plan is to initially focus on metros and gradually move to the smaller cities and towns.

“Our criteria will be to come up with standards to grade food outlets. They could be graded as stars or as levels. The focus will be to see that they maintain food hygiene and safety so that consumers can make a wiser choice,” a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

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