Govt eases rules for budget hotels seeking food licenses


  • Budget hotels will not require star rating certificates for seeking food safety licences
  • The hospitality industry in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.1% in 2022, according to a report by KPMG
The government has relaxed norms for budget hotels in procuring food safety licences to promote ease of doing business for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the hospitality industry.
The move comes in the wake of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) receiving several representations from stakeholders to review the provisions requiring hotel food business operators (FBOs) to furnish star rating certificates from the ministry of tourism’s Hotel & Restaurant Approval & Classification Committee (HRACC) while applying for a fresh licence or to renew a licence.
FSSAI, the food safety regulation arm of the health ministry, has said budget hotels will not require star rating certificates for seeking food safety licences.
“It has been brought to the notice of FSSAI that the scheme of certificate of star ratings to the hotels by the ministry of tourism (HRACC) is voluntary and many hotels particularly small hotels do not go for star certification under the scheme. However, licensing authorities insist on the production of the certificate of ratings even from small or tiny hotels at the time of applying for fresh licence or renewal of licence. As a result, the hotel industry is facing difficulty in getting licences for hotels,” Parveen Jargar, joint director (regulatory compliance), FSSAI said in his order dated 7 February.
Mint has reviewed a copy of the order.
“As per the licensing criteria, hotels with ratings of five star and above require central licences and hotels with rating four star and below with a turnover above ₹12 lakh require a state licence. It is clarified that the criteria for hotels for state licence includes both star category hotels (one star to four star) as well as non-star category hotels, including all those hotels that have not opted for star rating,” the order said.
The ministry of tourism has formulated a voluntary scheme for classification of operational hotels under the star category—5 Star Deluxe, 5 Star, 4 Star, 3 Star, 2 Star, and 1 Star—and the heritage category—Heritage Grand, Heritage Classic, and Heritage Basic. The aim is to provide contemporary standards of facilities and services available on the hotels.
“Small and budget hotels will now have an opportunity of improving their services instead of running around for paper work. This will encourage the hotel industry,” said Arup Mitra, professor, health policy research unit at the Institute of Economic Growth. The hospitality industry in India is expected to grow at 16.1% CAGR in 2022, according to KPMG.
India Brand Equity Foundation, a trust established by the department of commerce, ministry of commerce and industry, said the travel and tourism sector in India comprised 8% of the total employment opportunities generated in India in 2017, providing employment to about 41.6 million people during the year.
The FSSAI decided that hotel FBOs will have to upload on the online food licensing and registration system (FLRS) a declaration stating whether they are star or non-star hotel. In case of star hotels, they will be required to submit a star certificate issued by the ministry of tourism.

FSSAI plans to give licenses in one hour

The apex food regulator is planning to give licences to food business operators (FBOs) within one hour of submission of application. This is being planned on the lines of Union government’s decision to disburse loans to those belonging to MSME sector within 59 minutes of application.

This path-breaking decision was arrived at after the matter was discussed during the Central Advisory Committee (CAC)  meeting held here on Friday. The decision was made in order to push the ease of doing business project further, it was learnt.

While speaking to FnB News, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, informed that the time was brought down to just one hour in order to align with the government’s wish to improve the ease of doing business. Currently it takes 15 days to generate the licence for FBOs after submission of the required documents along with the application.
Agarwal explained that since licensing does not require pre-inspection by the food safety authority, hence issuance of licence should not be a time-consuming factor, as long as the documentation was complete.

He stated, “Licensing does not require any prior inspections and if the documents are fully completed, licences can be generated immediately. It does not take much time, and the only thing was that documents required to be full.”

FSSAI has made a plan for this project and it will be implemented in 10 districts spread across the country over a period of time. The 10 districts include Nagpur, Sangli and Dhule from Maharashtra, North Goa from Goa, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari from Andhra Pradesh, Idukki from Kerala, Somnath from Gujarat, Pradeep (Jagatsinghpur dist) from Odisha and Kangra from Himachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, FSSAI, in consultation with the concerned states, is conducting special drive in these districts to check the FBOs compliance with licensing and registration rules. However, the CAC was of the view that to bring in discipline among FBOs, it is imperative to have special drives in all districts of the country.

Further, FSSAI in July 2018, had already made request to states/UTs to carry out enforcement drive targeting non-licensed FBOs. In the past also, FSSAI has repeatedly requested states/UTs to carry out the survey of unlicensed/unregistered FBOs.

The CAC has said in its agenda note that states/UTs were requested to act in the direction of ease of doing business and may conduct special camps in which licences/registration can be awarded in similar time frame. Further, states/UTs may direct designated officers and registering authorities to identify the area to conduct licensing/registration camps in their respective areas, where the maximum benefit from the camps can be achieved.

FSSAI awareness on Licence / Registration

FSSAI Awareness on Registration / Licensing

Do dry pantries need food safety license ? >> In a bizarre turn of events, food safety officials barged into an IT company to inspect their dry pantry (a dining area for employees with a coffee vending machine and drinking water dispenser). The officials not only closed down the pantry demanding a food safety license, but also engaged in a war of words with employees.
This happened despite Technopark authorities given permission to food safety officials only to inspect eateries in Technopark. Thoughtline, a Technology company operating in Ganga building of Technopark Phase III was the scene of the entire drama. It was by Friday evening that food safety officials came to inspect the IT company which is functioning in the SEZ campus.
The employees questioned whether they have a permission to enter the SEZ campus, but the food safety officials insisted on conducting an inspection. They even called police to intervene in the baseless issue.
“It is unfortunate that such incidents are happening at a time when Kerala IT is doing its best to bring major IT companies to the state. It is nothing but officers’ highhandedness and ego. We are running IT companies, not eateries. Such dry pantries are set to ensure that employees get a comfortable area for dining” managing director of a Technopark company said to
Employees and management of most of the companies where shocked by the unauthorized entry of food safety officials into an IT company and disrupting its normal functioning. The food safety officials also defamed the name of the company by circulating its name among the eateries which were closed after their audit.
Sources said that the company has escalated the matter to higher officials in the department of IT. It is expected that government will take a strong action to ensure that such issues are not repeated.
Meanwhile, food safety officials temporarily closed down 5 eateries in Technopark citing unhygienic conditions. A total of 93 eateries were inspected and among them, 30 were slapped a fine of Rs. 1.94 lakhs. Tasty Six at Bhavani building, Arabic Paradise near main gate, Gafoor Ka Dosth, Sabardast Fusion, and Table Cafe at Thejaswini building were among the eateries which were temporarily closed down.

Eateries need to hire food safety officer to get licence

The draft regulations are being notified and the final regulations will be enforced subsequently.
The food regulator has drafted regulations for restaurants and eateries, requiring them to employ a food safety officer in order to obtain a licence.
The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India also made it mandatory for companies that sell food online to get separate licences under the Food Safety & Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Amendment Regulations, 2018.
Owners and vendors of food products sold on ecommerce platforms must display their licences or FSSAI registrations. The ecommerce firms will have to ensure that food articles have a pending shelf life of 30% or 45 days before expiry at the time of delivery to consumers. Such food products can be sampled at any point in the supply chain, the authority added.
While applying for a state or central licence, restaurants won’t have to submit blueprints or layout plans, names and lists of equipment and machinery, lists of food categories, copies of certificates obtained under Co-op Act, NOCs from manufacturers and recall plans.
“The revised condition prescribes that a Food Safety Display Board needs to be displayed at a prominent place in the premises and employment of at least one technical person or Food Safety Supervisor trained by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India in case of restaurant,” the regulator said.
“Safety and standards are paramount in running any business which has food for human consumption,” said Rahul Singh, president of the National Restaurant Association of India. “The NRAI welcomes such initiatives as restaurants need to dedicate their resources towards food safety to successful execute measures and develop a culture within their premises to stay committed towards customer safety.”
The draft regulations are being notified and the final regulations will be enforced subsequently.
“All food companies will have to follow these revised regulations with immediate effect and the enforcement of these regulations will commence only after the final regulations are notified in the Gazette of India,” FSSAI said.
The regulator simplified rules for slaughter houses, making minimum sanitary and hygienic requirements mandatory because the earlier requirements were not compatible with the operation of small slaughter houses.
Rules have been laid down for catering companies, including those that provide services at eating houses, canteens at schools, colleges and other institutions, religious places, trains and flights, hospitals and events.

FSSAI extends date to submit licence renewal applications to March 31

The FSSAI has extended the date for submission of applications for renewals of licences and registrations due to the failure of the Food Licence and Registration System (FLRS). Food business operators (FBOs) can now have a window period till March 31, 2018 to renew their licences and registrations without any penalty.

In an order, Garima Singh, director regulatory compliance, FSSAI, stated that the window on FLRS had been extended till March 31, 2018, adding that FBOs can renew their licences or registrations by this date without any penalty. However, if an FBO fails to do so by March 31, he/she have to submit a fresh application.

It was due to technical glitches that the renewals of licences and registrations of FBOs were halted under FLRS. Earlier, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said that the technical glitches would be removed by February 15, 2018, and the FBOs who were unable to renew their licences would be allowed to continue their operations and given a window to renew their licences and registrations.

Singh, in her latest order, said, “In view of the failure of FLRS, a window was provided till February 15, 2018 for the FBOs to submit their application to renew their licences and registrations. It has (now) been decided that an extended window on FLRS will be provided to all such FBOs till March 31, without levying a penalty.”

However, she added, “In case, if an FBO fails to submit his/her renewal within the extended time period (i e by March 31, 2018), such FBOs will have to submit fresh applications.”

The country’s apex food regulator, in a letter, stated that FLRS, which is information technology- (IT) enabled, went off-track in December 2017. As a result of this, many FBOs were unable to renew their licences and registrations to continue their operations.