Mumbai is known as the hub of street foods; however, the Bombay HC had declared cooking on Mumbai streets illegal twice, which has also not been followed. After a recent revelation by the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where 74 per cent of Mumbai restaurants are found violating the rules under Food Safety and Standard Act, while there have been no talks on the hygiene at the street food stalls. However, it appears as the FDA and the government might be lagging behind to ensure the hygiene and food safety violations by the street food vendors.
As per the reports, 442 hotels and restaurants were examined by the FDA in Mumbai and out of that, 327 kitchens are reported unhygienic. According to the FDA rules and regulations, all the kitchens from five-star hotels to street vendors should follow the food safety rules. Although in the last month, the FDA announced the life imprisonment to soon be the maximum punishment for food adulterators in the state. Recently, the FDA has issued a notice to all these hotels and restaurant directing them to follow the rules and has warned to close the kitchens if the same were not followed. Nonetheless, it raises a concern for the Mumbaikars considering what measures are being taken to curb the violations of hygiene and food safety!
Shiv Sena MLA Prakash Surve commented, “The street food vendors should be kept under watch, and the watch should be uncorrupt. The BMC doesn’t take any action against them. They should be observed as to what food they are cooking, what water they are using. The administration must increase their manpower and thorough inspection must be done.”
Initially, in 2015, the Bombay High Court directed the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to evict the hawkers who prepare food on the streets, lanes, and pavements in the city. Later in February this year, the Bombay High Court pulled up the BMC for failing to initiate action against the hawkers and roadside food stalls, which continue to cook and sell food in the open and continue to breach the 2015 orders of the bench. The reason being, the state government had completely failed to implement the Street Vendors Act.
In a conversation with AV, Food Auditor Akshi Kapadia threw light upon the campaigning taking place to train and certify the street food vendors in the city and suburbs. She explained, “Just two or three weeks ago, auditing and training for food vendors have started. Currently, in Mumbai, some of the agencies have started training the street food vendors and certifying them and the campaign has started in Ghatkopar Khau Galli. It will take time but things will eventually turn better.”
She continued saying, “The hawkers are being given a FoSTaC training which is a government certificate for hygiene in different sectors. This was already in the plan and getting executed now. The concern has grown about hygienic food in the customers and as well as the officials. However, not all the vendors will be willingly participating because you know the major concern for them is the money. But it is a positive feedback on the part of the street vendors who have participated.”
As it is well-known that a large part of the Mumbaikars prefers street foods than the restaurant ones! Hence, not only street food but all the FBOs are being targetted. The FSSAI is gearing up for rigorous large-scale inspections to be carried out at FBOs’ premises across the country in order to ensure compliance with the FSS Regulations, 2011. This has been revealed at an event hosted by industry body CII on Thursday. In effect to it, the Maharashtra FDA slapped a notice on December 13 to the renowned Lonavla-based Chikki manufacturer Maganlal Chikki, asking it to stop the production for alleged violation of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSSA) at its plants.
Film professional Paroma Bhowmik expressed, “India’s health, hygiene, and sanitation problems are much more omnipresent than it is projected to be. If people are fervently fretting about the hygiene of street food then they should perhaps focus on the extensive rate of food adulteration that is being conducted by some of the biggest industries of the world.”
The issue of hawkers cooking and selling food on the roadside has become unexpectedly prominent. Considering the hygiene issues faced by the street food consumers, Mumbaikars are appealing the government to create awareness for maintaining hygiene and public health.
Argha Ghosh, an Associate content writer by profession spoke to AV and stated, “The basic need is to educate the importance of hygiene to the people who run these street food stalls. They should be given a proper demonstration so that they understand how it can affect the health of the consumers and that the person who is running the stall also falls under the same bracket of ‘consumer’. This could be one way we can ensure street food hygiene. Along with that, the government needs to keep a regular tab on how these shops are running and do regular quality checks.”
Banking professional Sankha Ghosh too shared his thoughts. He expressed, “Across India, there have hardly any uniform hygiene and safety parameter set. So, it’s quite natural that street foods are most unhygienic. The irony is, in a city like Mumbai, there are a large number of people who have their major meals from these joints. Keep apart the other facilities, the basic fooding of these people are highly endangered leading to various diseases. So, the supply of foods needs to be monitored. And, there can be a municipal budget to help these local street vendors to use proper ingredients in food.”