Thursday, April 30, 2009

Eateries flout BBMP’s safe summer directives

Eateries flout BBMP’s safe summer directives
Hot water for drinking, cleanliness of the premises, keeping the food covered at all times are some of BBMP’s directives to the city’s eating joints

Acup of hot water is your right as a customer at every restaurant this summer. In a bid to make the season disease free, the BBMP has issued a five point health directive to all eating points. “These are regular directives that the hotels have to follow. However, with the risk of water borne diseases looming large because of the weather, we have intensified the health drive in restaurants,” said K L Venkateshappa, Deputy Commissioner Health.
So all the 12,000 licensed eateries in the city now have to mandatorily display a board (distributed by the BBMP) about providing hot water for drinking, the cleanliness of the premises, keeping the food covered at all times and a food handling certificate for every member of the staff who serves or prepares food. They also have to maintain an inspection book specifying 21 points which will be signed by the medical health officers conducting unannounced checks.
“According to the rule book, the employees must undergo a medical examination every six months to ensure their general well-being. They are specifically checked for contagious disease like TB, gastroenteritis and skin ailments,” said Dr S B Nagaraj, Health officer, Bangalore South. If the hotels are found violating the rules, they will be served notices and may even be shut down.
However, ten days into the directive and half way into summer, the restaurants of the city seem to have scant regard for the rules of the BBMP. Water is still served straight from the tap or a tanker and the medical certificates for staff are rare at best. “There are about 60,000 people who work in the hotel industry and about 60 percent of them deal with food directly. The number of those who have medical certificate cannot be verified because the BBMP cannot maintain individual files,” said a health official who wished to remain anonymous.
The hoteliers have officially welcomed the drive, but say they are hampered by more practical problems.
“The rate of attrition in the industry is very high as some of them leave within days. Where do we have the time to get them certified? Also, the certificates should be given to us free of cost, but we end up paying about Rs 100 for each. If my employee turnover is high, how can I afford it? The BBMP comes to inspect the premises only twice a year so these things can be managed,” said Raghu Hegde, who runs a darshini in Hanumanthnagar. The bottom line is always the deciding factor for hoteliers. “Heating water for drinking will eat into my profits. If someone wants to have very clean water, then they can buy a bottle,” said Vishwanath Rai who runs a small chat joint in Koramangala.
With serious ailments like jaundice, cholera, gastroenteritis and dengue clouding the season, the BBMP is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a safe summer. But the effectiveness of the rules seem to leave a lot to be desired.
“We need the public participation to make this an effective drive. If anyone sees violations of the directives in the display boards, please call 22975585 to register a complaint. We will ensure that the guilty are brought to the book,” was Venkateshappa’s plea to the general public.

• Clean hot or filtered water must be provided

• The kitchen and serving area should be kept clean

• The food should be covered at all times

• A closed dustbin should be used to dispose of the water generated that should be handed over to the BBMP.This dustbin will be stored outside the hotel premises.

• The trade license issued by the BBMP should be on display for the public.


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