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Ban after complaints: Amid pushback by restaurants, Zomato defers quality policy

The platform had listed the presence of hazardous objects in food, serving non-vegetarian food instead of vegetarian, delivering the wrong type of meat, and rotten food as examples of severe food quality issues.

zomato, zomato complaints, zomato policy, Business news, Indian express business news, Indian express, Indian express news, Current AffairsFSSAI CEO Arun Singhal told The Indian Express, "We are encouraging all stakeholders to offer quality food and Zomato’s penalty against multiple offenders could make sure that customers get food of the highest quality." File

After it drew the ire of hoteliers over a proposed policy to ban restaurants based on customer complaints about food quality, Zomato is learnt to have decided to defer the plan until next month and has informed restaurants that it will seek feedback from them on how it can strengthen the policy before implementing it.

Zomato, in an email sent late Friday night to its restaurant partners, is learnt to have pushed the implementation of the policy from April 18 to May 3. Under the policy, called ‘Severe Food Quality’ rules, Zomato proposed it would temporarily ban restaurants if consumers complained about their food quality. The platform had listed the presence of hazardous objects in food, serving non-vegetarian food instead of vegetarian, delivering the wrong type of meat, and rotten food as examples of severe food quality issues.

Zomato said it would get feedback from stakeholders on the policy. “We seek feedback from all our restaurant partners and would like to understand from you how this framework can be strengthened so it can be in the best interest of all stakeholders involved,” Zomato is learnt to have said in the email.

“The disablement will be in consultation with the restaurant management and will only be applicable till necessary remedial actions are undertaken and verified through an Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)-approved hygiene and safety auditor,” the email said.

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On its part, the FSSAI welcomed Zomato’s policy, saying it would ensure customers receive good quality food.

FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal told The Indian Express, “We are encouraging all stakeholders to offer quality food and Zomato’s penalty against multiple offenders could make sure that customers get food of the highest quality.”

The FSSAI had earlier launched a hygiene rating for restaurants, cafes, dhabas etc, to make sure customers get good quality food at such outlets. The ratings, voluntary in nature, include several parameters and an inspection by local authorities or a third-party audit of a restaurant’s premises and food offerings.

The National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), which had criticised Zomato saying that the firm was overstepping with the policy, said it was set to have a conversation with the firm to resolve its issues with the policy. “While the intent of the policy is understandable, the implementation leaves a lot of grey areas and scope for misuse. Further the action of delisting is draconian. We have initiated dialogue with the Zomato Team and conveyed our views. They will be meeting with us next week to resolve this in a better, more inclusive way, keeping all stakeholders in mind,” an NRAI spokesperson said. Zomato did not respond to a request for comment until publication.

Restaurants, meanwhile, are waiting with bated breath to see how the policy will finally shape up to be and have called for it to also consider the issue of fake complaints and equally penalise customers engaging in such activities.

“While the new policy is acceptable, it has to be a two-way process. Our statistics show us that out of 10 cases that are reported by customers, around five turn out to be fake. And of the remaining five, two or three have discrepancies where the rider hasn’t properly handled the food or the restaurant. It is just in one or two cases where the food itself genuinely has a problem,” Rajat Jaiswal, co-founder of Wat-a-Burger, told The Indian Express. “So, it should be a two-way street and if a customer engages in fake reporting multiple times, Zomato should also cancel their customer IDs”.

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