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Mumbai: Soon, check an eatery’s FDA rating before booking table

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MUMBAI: On the occasion of World Food Safety Day on Thursday, the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will flag off a pilot rating system for restaurants for the first time in the country. Restaurants will be rated on a scale of zero to five stars on the basis of hygiene and responsibility to customer safety.

The rating system, based on the ‘Scores on the Doors’ scheme followed in some western countries, will first be carried out in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. “The food hygiene rating given will reflect our inspection findings. The purpose of this scheme is to allow consumers to make informed choices about the places where they eat out. The aim is to reduce the incidence of food-borne illnesses and associated costs to the economy,” said FDA commissioner Pallavi Darade.

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To get the hygiene stars, restaurants will first have to complete an online self-assessment. “Our inspectors will then go and inspect the restaurants on the parameters such as cleanliness, design and facilities, availability of water and soap, etc,” said Darade. Based on the FDA’s assessment, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India will give the hygiene rating to the restaurant. “The food hygiene rating will be based on what we find when we inspect the premises. We use a scoring system to rate how well a food business is run. The best is five stars and the worst is no stars,” Darade added.

The second rating, the “responsible place to eat” tag, can be earned if the place not only ensures that its staff is clean and undergoes periodic health checks, but even ensures that surplus food is not thrown out but donated. “We have some 20 parameters on which restaurants will be marked,” said a senior FDA official.

The eateries will also be graded on the advice they give out to customers: Be it awareness about balanced diet or the pitfalls of adding extra sugar and salt to food.

Establishments should ensure that all beverages are made in potable water and cooking methods are hygienic.

“We will also check if restaurants are transparent in allowing customers to visit their kitchens,” said Darade. Kitchens that are open and allow consumers to check on safety angles such as food handlers and cooks wearing protective gear, will be noted.” Having an effective consumer redressal mechanism with WhatsApp numbers or emails will be a plus point too, said officials.

The FDA has already carried out a small drive of grading 30 restaurants—15 in Mumbai, 10 in Pune and five in Nagpur— and their officials will be given the star ratings at a public function to be held in Bandra on Thursday.

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