FHRAI plans to set up five Food Testing Labs every year

Representative image.
Representative image.

INDORE: The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) plans to set up non-commercial food testing laboratories across the country to help its members tide over hassles during food department raids, especially during festive season.

FHRAI president Bharat Malkani said, “The number of labs that currently exist are grossly insufficient and will not be able to cope with the sheer volume of service seekers. Our labs will benefit thousands of FBOs from bakery federations, catering associations, food retail traders and mithaiwala associations, among others.”

To be launched on a non-commercial basis, the labs will not only follow global standards of food safety and hygiene, but will also conduct the tests at forty to fifty percent lower costs than its commercial counterparts, he said.

FHRAI officials said the new laboratories would be set up according to global standards and will be equipped to carry out microbiological and chemical tests.

FHRAI and the Hotel and Restaurant Association Western India (HRAWI) already have a non-commercial food testing laboratory in Vadodara.

Officials have come up with the idea to set up more food testing laboratories to save food business operators from what they term ‘harassment’ suffered by hotel owners at the hands of food safety department officials.  

But government officials refuted the claims saying that sampling was necessary to maintain public health safety standards. “We ensure that the sample collection is carried out on late evenings to prevent any discomfort to the establishments,” said Manish Swami, district food safety officer.

The matter was also a hot topic during panel discussions at the 51st FHRAI convention here on Friday. The panellists also claimed that with the introduction of Food Safety and Standards Act it has become mandatory for food business operators (FBOs) to test their food products.
“The food sample collected by food inspectors should be divided into four parts and food business operators, be it of a hotel, restaurant, bakery or some other food outlet, will have the right to get one part of the sample tested at one of these labs of their choice,” said Dr V Pasupathy, food scientist and adviser to FHRAI.
“There is a self-defence facility under the existing laws that can help us avoid any kind of enforcement anomalies,” he said, while adding that every hotelier has the right to ask food inspectors exactly what they were going to inspect.
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