Purpose - Serve Safe Initiatives in PoW
Access to nutritionally adequate and safe food is a right of each individual. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is working to strengthen the food safety and quality control systems by promoting good manufacturing and hygiene practices and educating the food handlers about appropriate food handling practices which are essential to ensure the health and welfare of the consumer.
FSSAI is engaging with the managements of Places of Worship to help them implement Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) as one of the Serve Safe initiatives.
Pilgrim centres are a very important part of Indian society and every day approximately 30 Crore Indians visit the various Places of Worship. The Places of worship including temples, gurdwaras are considered as important stakeholders in the Serve Safe initiative of FSSAI as they have a tradition of offering food to the devotees as Prasad and many of these places also serve food in large numbers to the pilgrims.
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness". Food served in these places of worship is regarded as pure and sacred. Hence food should be prepared in a clean and proper manner giving utmost importance to hygiene. The complexity of operations, quantity of food prepared and the lack of training and knowledge of the actual food handlers makes the entire process to be categorized as a high-risk operation, especially as the impact of any food safety incident would be felt by a large population of people.
2. Legal Status
Under section 3(1) (n) of food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006, a Food business has been defined as "Food business means any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private, carrying out any of the activities related to any stage of manufacture, processing, packaging, storage, transportation, distribution of food, import and includes food services, catering services, sale of food or food ingredients"
Thus, every pilgrim centre where Prasad/ Foods get distributed falls under the definition of Food Business Operator and need to follow hygiene and sanitary practices as per FSS Regulation. Further, Part V of Schedule 4 of FSS (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulation, 2011 states that Food Service at religious places where food is being handled, processed, manufactured, stored, distributed and ultimately sold to the customers and the persons handling them should conform to the sanitary and hygienic requirement, food safety measures and other standards as specified.