Dimapur, August 25: The Food safety authorities have been caught napping time and again while the Food Safety and Standards Act are being openly flouted in Dimapur.
There are hundreds of food joints and hotels, ranging from roadside/ foot path eateries, tea stalls to restaurants and bakeries flourishing in the commercial hub of the State with little or no monitoring from the authorities on the safety of foods served in such establishments.
In a major embarrassment to the State authorities, a tourist had a nauseating experience while eating at a hotel here recently. The tourist informed about the same to some of his State official friends who then informed the Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare.
When Nagaland Page contacted the Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Ramiah Ramakrishnan, it was learnt that a tourist from a neighboring state while eating in a hotel at Middle Point Colony observed with utter disgusts that rats were running on the floors, even touching his feet and the food items kept on the table. It was also learnt that sweats from the cooks were dripping on cooking pan, the floors and the tables were unclean, splashed with food items and food was served in unclean plates with dirt visible.
The tourist, as learnt, paid off the bill without eating anything and rushed out from the hotel. He then informed some friends who contacted the Principal Secretary, H&FW and narrated the happening.
“It is a very shameful matter for the State and so I immediately informed the Chief Medical Officer, who deputed the food inspection team and made the necessary inspections. More such surprise checking will take place,” Ramiah Ramakrishnan said.
In the inspection report, the food inspection team mentioned that “the sanitary and the hygienic condition of the tea stall were at zero tolerance.”
“The tea stall premises were filthy and the surroundings too were found to be unhygienic and there were every possibilities of cross contamination of food articles. Fourteen days time was given for food compliance under FSS Act, rules and regulations guidelines,” the report said.
Instructions were also issued to all the tea stall proprietors to attend to food safety authorities for necessary legal actions.
This, however, is only a tip of the iceberg. If the officials conduct raids on other hotels, tea stalls or bakeries in the city, many facts will be exposed about the poor quality of food served to customers and poor hygiene inside the eateries and restaurants.
Earlier this year some raids were conducted on some restaurants and bakeries, both in Dimapur and Kohima, and they were reportedly given some time for food compliance under FSS Act. Whether they have complied to the guidelines or not nothing is known, as is the activities of the State food safety authorities since then.
There is also the habit of the State authorities to announce when they are going to conduct raids, which allows time for the eateries to ensure a semblance of hygiene in their respective establishments during the raid period.
Ramiah assured that the food inspection team would vigorously carry out inspections and strict actions enforced on defaulters. Perhaps he should also direct the food inspection team to go for surprise raids, instead of giving advance announcement of raids to be conducted, in order to eradicate this menace. (Page News Service)