The awareness and importance of food safety has increased in general life, especially in the post-pandemic era. There is a growing emphasis on supporting local markets, promoting locally sourced ingredients, and providing training to indigenous vendors. These initiatives aim to ensure that food safety practices are integrated into local food systems, benefiting both consumers and vendors. By combining regulatory guidelines, awareness campaigns, and education, we can enhance food safety measures in India and create a safer food environment for all.
“Ensuring food safety is a collective responsibility for all individuals. Food Safety is everyone’s business means that ensuring the safety of the food we consume is a collective responsibility that involves various stakeholders, including producers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators, and consumers,” shared Chef Prakash Chettiyar, Director of Culinary, JW Marriott Kolkata.
But food safety is not just serving safe food on the plate but also reducing the carbon footprints and contributing to the environment. According to the Food Waste Index Report 2021, food wasted in homes, restaurants and shops of which 17 per cent of all food is just dumped. Some food is also lost on farms and in supply chains, indicating that overall a third of food is never eaten.
Food Safety is the Key
“From procurement to cooking to packaging, serving we ensure we follow all SOPs and use the best and most fresh ingredients,” shared Vishal Anand, Founder, Moonshine Food Ventures (SAGA, Café Staywoke, Nush Mush), Gurugram by adding that they also take this to a step further and leave no scope for falling short as they ensure that their packaging material is top of the line, environmental friendly and keeps the food fresh.
Meanwhile, Debaditya Chaudhury, Managing Director of Chowman, also take extensive measures to ensure the safety and hygiene of the food they serve adhering to the standard regulations set by FSSAI, creating a safe and hygienic environment within their establishment. Not only this they also prioritize the sourcing of ingredients from local suppliers, which helps reduce transportation-related emissions. To further reduce food waste, they encourage their customers to take leftovers home in eco-friendly packaging, thereby minimizing the amount of food that goes to waste. Additionally, we take proactive measures to maintain and clean our equipment regularly, ensuring optimal performance and energy efficiency.
Not only this, many restaurants use separate fryers for veg, non-veg foods, safety handlings and some even have special food safety inspectors/officers at their restaurants.
“We use the oils to the minimistic ratio as how much needed to fry, we serve mostly steamed or grilled foods and for frying we follow FIFO process and discarded oil is sent back to organizations in weekly collections so that they can use it for Biodiesel,” added Chef Vaibhav Bhargava CHO Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar.
How environment-friendly are you?
According to FSSAI guidelines, the limit for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) to be maximum 25% beyond which the vegetable oil is not suitable for use. Hence, RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil) is converted into biodiesel. And, restaurants partners with agencies and firms to promote and donate to sustainable practices.
“For the past 1.5 years, we have implemented the RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil) program across all of our outlets. As part of this initiative, we have partnered with KNP Arises Green Energy Pvt. Ltd., an agency dedicated to promoting sustainable practices. The RUCO procedure involves providing a collection drum to each outlet for gathering used cooking oil. Once a certain quantity is accumulated, the agency replaces it with a new, empty drum for future use. The collected oil is then converted into biodiesel,” added Chaudhury by adding that the purpose of implementing RUCO is twofold. Firstly, it ensures the safety of our customers by eliminating the potential health hazards associated with improper disposal of cooking oil, such as cancer and cardiovascular damage that may occur in the future. Secondly, our collaboration with the agency to initiate RUCO aligns with our commitment to contribute to a greener Earth.
“As far as TPC is concerned, our team is being trained by the FSSAI for these things. We have already two-three companies empanelled with us for the Ruko. We sell our used oils to these Ruko companies who convert the oils into biodiesel,” pointed Vikrant Batra, Cofounder, Dhansoo cafe, Gurugram who always advocate sustainable food by using ingredients that have a nature of sustainability in it and it won’t be exhausted in the due course of time. Apart from the ingredients, they use different packaging materials that can be recycled like paper, wood etc.
Following same principles and guidelines CHO Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar is associated with company called NorEa Agro Pvt ltd in Gurgaon.
How Restaurants are Celebrating the Day
From enhancing food safety protocols, to ensuring food safety practices, regular training programs, farm-to-fork sourcing and organising interactive sessions, restaurants are promising a way ahead to the safety protocol.
“This year, to celebrate World Food Safety Day, we are organizing a "safety scavenger hunt" at our workplace. Employees will have the opportunity to search for items such as first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and safety signs. The person who finds the most items will win a prize. We believe that taking the time to learn about and recognize the importance of occupational safety and health is crucial. By doing so, we can make a difference in the lives of workers worldwide,” said Priykant Gautam Director at Le Cena Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.
Also, for restaurant owners like Anand and Batra, food safety is something that they have always given importance to and followed and will continue to thrive to do so, ensuring the best guests experience and top quality food and services.
“By leveraging World Food Safety Day as a catalyst, we are dedicated to reinforcing our dedication to food safety and continuous improvement. Through rigorous assessments, targeted training, and informative demonstrations, we strive to create a safe and hygienic environment for our valued customers,” concluded Chaudhury.