The Punjab government’s Food and Drug Administration on Sunday said it has prohibited online supply of food from Food Business Operators (FBOs) not possessing hygiene rating.
Issuing the prohibition orders, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner K S Pannu said invoking provisions under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006, keeping in view the interest of public health, the distribution/supply/sale of articles of food through Online Food Supply Aggregators (OFSAs) related to those 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 out of five,” a Punjab government release said.
The prohibition orders would be effective for one year beginning April 30, 2020.
The orders state that in Punjab, information technology-driven OFSAs have been distributing/selling/ supplying food to the consumers after sourcing the same from 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,” the release said.
It further stated that with the introduction of OFSAs, it has become important to ensure that these aggregators supply only 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, 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. FSSAI has empanelled various agencies to conduct the hygiene rating of the FBOs.
Pannu said the office of the Food and Drug Administration, Punjab had asked all the OFSAs to ensure that the FBOs from where they are sourcing food for distribution to consumers should get the hygiene rating of their business done.
The date of getting the hygiene rating of the FBOs done was earlier extended till October 31, 2019, Pannu said.
“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..,” he said. PTI SUN