Moving ahead on the quality food assurance agenda of Tandrust Punjab Mission, Mr. Brahm Mohindra, Health Minister Punjab has directed all the Online Food Order and Supply Companies to display the hygiene rating of all the Food Business Operators registered/affiliated with them.
Giving three months for compliance, Health Minister has said that after 90 days of issuance of formal communiqué in this regard “No online food order is to be delivered in the State without hygiene rating.”
Giving further details, Commissioner Food and Drug Administration Punjab-cum- Director Tandrust Punjab Mission, KS Pannu said that Online Food Order and Supply Companies take online orders from the consumers for the supply of food and deliver the same after procuring it from the Food Business Operators (FBO’s) associated with them.
Under the normal circumstances, said he, the consumer directly approaches the Food Business Operator and therefore, through primary contact, the consumer is aware about the quality of food and the hygienic condition under which food is prepared/ served.
The online order and delivery mechanism of food supply has created a physical disconnect between the consumer and the food maker. Hence, “the onus of ensuring the quality of food and the hygienic condition under which food is prepared, has shifted to the intermediate food delivery mechanism”, said Pannu.
It is in this context that it has been decided on the directions of Health Minister, Punjab that all the online food orders /delivery companies shall ensure that FBO’s registered/affiliated with them have their hygiene rating done from the FSSAI empanelled companies.
Divulging into the details of the rating mechanism, he said that hygiene rating on a scale of five smilies is under taken as per the guidelines of Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
The National Food authority has empanelled 23 companies to conduct the audit and hygiene rating of FBO’s. He said that a meeting has been held with the representatives of major Online Food Order and Supply Companies operational in Punjab like Zomato, Swiggy, Uber Eats and Food Panda and they have been sensitized on the issue.
Commissionerate has issued a formal letter to them wherein they have been directed to get the hygiene rating done of all the FBO’s registered with them and only those Food Business Operators who are at higher level of hygiene rating (bearing 3 or more smilies), should be allowed to supply food under the online food orders/delivery mechanism.
They have also been told that the website of their companies should contain the details regarding hygiene rating of the food establishments registered with them so that consumer is empowered to take informed decision before placing the online order for food delivery.
Date of rating/inspection is also to be mentioned in the page containing details about the food making unit on the company’s website/portal/App. Besides, the periodical inspection of their registered/affiliated FBOs is to be ensured so that they continue to follow hygiene standards in food preparation and service practices.
Last but not the least, it has been mandated that the packaging in which delivery of food is done to the consumer by the Online Food Order and Supply Companies, should bear prominent information with regard to the status of hygiene rating of the unit supplying the food for delivery to the consumer, said Pannu.