The Gujarat government has directed restaurants, hotels and canteens to have open kitchens so that people can watch what they are eating. In an order issued Thursday, Hemant Koshiya, Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA) commissioner said the notification shall be applicable for all restaurants, hotels and canteens selling cooked food in Gujarat.
They will have to remove the “no admission” or “no admission without permission” signs within two weeks and have transparent partitions for kitchens. In the case of complaints of any kitchen compromising on hygiene standards, the violator will have to pay fine upto Rs 1 lakh.
“We are empowering people and citizens and reducing our (FDCA and food safety officers’) burden. Every kitchen should comply with cleanliness and hygiene standards and if they are doing so, this notification should not be a problem. We are giving two weeks’ time for all… Within this time, if feasible (infrastructurally and otherwise) the wall or barrier to kitchen can be removed and replaced by glass partitions. If not feasible, then such signboards restricting entry to the kitchen must be removed,” the order said.
The notification dated November 6, was issued under the Food Safety Standard act (FSSAI) section 2006. The notification copy has been sent to all designated officers, including municipal corporations, across the state.
The officials have been told to visit eateries, including hotels, restaurants, canteens, and check the sign boards restricting access outside the kitchen and have them removed on priority and ensure that the kitchen area is clean. The notifications further states that the windows and doors of the kitchen areas should be kept open so that the customers can see the area.
The health department of Surat Municipal Corporation has issued letters to hotels, restaurants, canteens and other eateries in the city, requesting them to remove such sign boards having “no admission without permission” or “admission only with permission”.
Talking to The Indian Express, SMC Deputy Health Commissioner Dr Ashish Naik said, “We have issued letters to hotels, restaurants and canteens in the city, asking them to remove banners or signboards, or inscriptions on the glass windows or doors. Customers can enter the kitchen and check the cleanliness. We have given two days’ time and from coming Monday, we will carry out surprise inspections and if anybody is found to be flouting the instructions, we will take action, including issuing notice and collecting penalty. The owner will face legal action later.”
Southern Gujarat Hotel and Restaurant Association president Arun Shetty said, “We welcome the decision of the state government as it will benefit the customers as well as hotels and restaurants. We have issued letters to all restaurants and hotels in South Gujarat and intimated them to remove sign boards outside the kitchen.”