Madurai: As homemade sweets have become a thing of the past with people plumping for sweet manufacturers, bakeries and private caterers to place orders, Food Safety authorities are leaving nothing to chance to ensure that people get good quality products.
Madurai Food Safety designated officer Dr S Lakshmi Narayanan while cautioning against violation of norms said they were conducting surprise inspections on food business operators, savoury makers and bakers to check on hygiene and sanitation in production.
During the festival season, many catering units take bulk orders from households often flouting hygiene and sanitation rules during preparations. The quality of oil used leaves much to be desired, synthetic colours are used and as preparations are done over a long period, there are incidents of the sweets becoming stale when they reach the customers.
Lakshmi Narayanan said that they were educating the sweets makers on the importance of adhering to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Rules of 2011. Initially, all sweet manufacturers are being informed about the rules during the first visit and an appeal is made to follow them.”If they continue to violate, they would be slapped with a penalty as per the rules,” he said.
One of the main things being stressed during these visits is to refrain from reusing cooking oil in any form. In many cases, predominantly the making of savouries, the oil is continuously reused. Sources said that the oil used for frying snacks like, ‘Murukku’ was rarely replaced but was only replenished by adding new oil when the quantity gets reduced in the pan. All raw materials for the manufacture of food products should meet food grade standards. Packed products should have details of the day of manufacture, expiry date, best before and lot number.
Public can also register their complaints on the phone number 04522640036, he added.
Organised players in sweets business expect Food Safety authorities to ensure that hygiene is maintained by seasonal sweets manufacturers during the festive season.
It has become a usual practice for seasonal sweet makers in the district to hire marriage halls and prepare the products for bulk sale with workers employed on a temporary basis.
The Food Safety and Drug Administration Department has already specified norms for cleanliness of workplace and employees, Karunanidi, Designated Officer for Erode district, said. They are supposed to wear gloves and cover their heads while preparing sweets.
Floor must be smooth, washable and ceiling must also be washable. Production and storage areas must deter entry of flies and insects. There must be an effective drainage to drain off water used for washing equipment.
According to Food Safety officials, seasonal players could do business provided they comply with the safety norms, and have the licence.
However, according to sweet makers in the organised sector, the authorities are not able to be rigid on compliance to safety norms when the products are made in marriage halls and homes.
For instance, the workers employed temporarily are required to be medically examined by an authorised medical practitioners to rule out tuberculosis. The worker has to be free from typhoid, dysentery, boils, cuts, sores and ulcers, discharging ears and notifiable diseases occurring in their homes and families.
They are also required to keep their finger nails short and clean and wash heir hands with soap or detergent and water before commencing work and especially after using sanitary conveniences.
Washbasins with adequate provision of soaps and towels has to be provided.
The Food Safety authorities must be particular about hygiene of the workers since it would have a definite bearing on the health of consumers, a manager of a leading sweet shop emphasised.