Issuing prohibition orders, Mr. KS Pannu, Commissioner, Food & Drug Administration Punjab informed that exercising the powers conferred under section 30(2)(a) of Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006, read with section 18(1)(a) of Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006, in the interest of public health, the distribution /supply/sale of articles of food through Online Food Supply Aggregators (OFSAs) related to those Food Business Operators (FBOs) who have not got their hygiene rating done, has been prohibited .
The orders also prohibit OFSAs from sourcing the food from FBOs which are not hygienically rated and also where such rating is less than three marks out of five.
The prohibition orders would be effective in the entire state of Punjab for the period of one year with effect from 30″ April 2020.
The orders state that in the State of Punjab, information technology driven Online Food Supply Aggregators (OFSAs) such as M/s Uber Eats, M/s Swiggy, M/s Zomato, M/s Food Panda etc have been distributing/selling/ supplying food to the consumers after sourcing the same from Food Business Operators (FBOs).
This food delivery through an IT based platform is a very recent phenomenon in which the direct and primary contact between the consumer of food articles and the manufacturers of food articles, especially the hot cooked food articles, has snapped.
This mechanism of distribution/sale/supply of food by OFSAs has obliterated the system of responsibility of maintaining the quality of food, which till now was being directly verified by the consumers from the food business operators at his counter.
With the introduction of mechanism of OFSAs, it has become important to ensure that these aggregators supply only the good quality and properly hygienic food articles to the consumers.
Although, it is the moral responsibility of FBOs and OFSAs to ensure quality and hygiene of food delivered. However, the duty is also cast upon the State Authorities to ensure safe food to public under the Section 18(1)(a) of food Safety and standards Act, 2006,said Pannu.
He said that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued instructions vide which the system of hygiene rating of the food business operators has been introduced and the FSSAI has empanelled various agencies to conduct the hygiene rating of the FBOs.
Pannu informed that the office of Food & Drug Administration Punjab had advised all the OFSAs to ensure that the FBOs from where they are sourcing the food for distribution to consumers should be asked to get the hygiene rating of their business done and the OFSAs should source and supply the food from only those FBOs who secure at least three smilies out of a range of five smilies in the matter of hygiene rating. The date of getting the hygiene rating of the FBOs done was extended till 31″ of October, 2019.
However, it has been observed that even after creating awareness regarding the importance of hygiene rating, OFSAs have not taken the matter seriously, resulting in consumers continuously facing the potential of delivery of unsafe/unhygienic food.
Later, the department gave a notice on 18.01.2020 for seeking objections, if any, to the OFSAs as well as the FBOs and other stakeholders to show cause as to why not to prohibit the distribution/supply/sale of food through OFSAs related to those FBOs who have not got their hygiene rating done.
The objections were called to be filed on or before 30″ January, 2020. Since, no objection has been received from any stakeholder including OFSAs and FBOs, so the prohoibition orders have been issued, said Pannu.