Governments worldwide set very stringent guidelines for some industries, and the F&B industry is one of them. Food is perishable and, if not stored, handled and processed correctly, can have far-reaching implications on the health and the wellbeing of the community. When you start a restaurant, you need to ensure that you meet all the guidelines set by the government and the local authority and need to certify your kitchen as per these guidelines.
FSSAI, or Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, which comes under the health and welfare ministry, lays some guidelines for F&B business. One needs to follow them and get certified when opening a food business; in case of failure to follow these stands, one runs a risk of getting a closure notice.
Mandatory FSSAI guidelines for restaurant and the methods to implement them:-
Basic terms and certification:-
Display of all the certificates/notices and licences on the premises of the restaurant is mandatory. Personnel in charge of the kitchen and serving food must be educated to handle food hygienically. The staff who get in touch with the food items should have their regular health check-up; in case of any sickness or symptoms, they should stay away to avoid contamination. If some food items need special instructions, packaging should display the same.
Handling of ingredients and water:-
Ingredients needed in the restaurant must be purchased by known and trustworthy vendors only. When purchasing the raw materials, one must be alert about any visible deficiencies like foul order, discolouration, contamination etc. When purchasing the ingredients, be mindful of the storage space; buy only things you can store per set standards. When using the raw materials, check the expiry dates. Use the basic principle of first expired, first-out / first manufactured, first-out and first-in, first-out.
Water is used extensively in the restaurant industry for cooking, washing, drinking. One must see the water used in the restaurant must be free from contamination, pollution or hazardous chemicals. Ice also needs to be formed from uncontaminated water. The freezing process does not remove many chemical and biological hazards; hence always use portable water to prepare ice.
Maintaining hygiene and disinfecting places which come in contact with food:-
The kitchen area, point of sales, utensils, food transport vehicle etc., needs to be kept clean and disinfected. Below mentioned are some of the ways to keep the surrounding and environment clean:-
a) Food equipment and utensils:-
All the utensils and equipment which come in contact with the food should be regularly sanitised. Restaurants must only use non-absorbant food-grade materials, different utensils for raw food and cooked food, and dispose of the straws and disposable cups once used. Discard all the chipped cutlery and dishes; personal items should be kept away from areas where food and beverages can come in contact with them.
b) Sanitising and hygienic surroundings:-
Point of sales is where food is served or handed over to clients. This place should be away from human and animal waste. Single portion salt, pepper and mustard should not be reused. The kitchen and point of sale should have proper ventilation and not be close to the toilet or damp places.
c) Hygienic handling of food transport and storage:-
Vehicle transporting food must be regularly sanitised and should be used for this purpose only. Food delivery time has to be minimum and food temperature constant to keep dangerous microbes in check. While food handling should be minimised and food handlers hands should be sanitised, cutlery and crockery if provided with food, the same should also be sanitised. All the packaged products should be handled in a way that the seal remains intact. Even dried, acidified and fermented food should be kept in a dry and cool place.
Food with high levels of salt, sugar, acid and low moisture is addressed separately by FSSAI. Many foods like nuts, fish, eggs etc., may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals; hence consumers must be informed about these ingredients beforehand. The use of uncooked ingredients should be limited, even for garnishing.
e) Preparation and processing:-
Preparation, cooking or processing of the food should be done in such a way to minimise harmful foreign agents in the food to negligible or acceptable levels. The preparation method should be such that it reduces the level of contamination.
Separate workstations should be maintained so that veg and non-veg food do not come into contact. Likewise, raw and cooked food should not come in contact with each other. Food stations in the kitchen should be sanitised. Frozen food must be heated enough to defrost it and get it universally heated. Cooking oil must not be reused, and fermented food should be monitored to avoid the growth of pathogens.
f) Processing of Vegetarian food:-
Unedible parts of the fruits and vegetables should be removed and then used. Fruits and vegetables should be washed in drinking water before being used. 50 ppm chlorinated water solution should be used to wash uncooked ready to eat fruits and vegetables even before cutting, peeling and serving. It is recommended that cut fruits and vegetables be kept in a clean container and refrigerated.
g) Processing of Nonveg food:-
A separate station long with dished, cutting board and knives should be allotted for nonveg food. Hands should be washed before switching from handling eggs, fish, meat and poultry to some other activity. The surface which comes in contact with non-veg food should be thoroughly sanitised
h) Personal Hygiene:-
People who handle food should be appropriately educated about maintaining proper hygiene when handling food. Sick employees should never come in contact with food as they risk contaminating the same. Food handlers uniforms should be clean and tidy, hair should be covered, and gloves should be on. Running water and soap should be available close to the workstation to use when coming in contact with places where chances of contamination are high. An activity like chewing or smoking tobacco, betel nuts, gums, touching body parts, especially the face, nose, eyes etc., should be avoided. Handling money and food at the same time is a strict no.
i) Food waste disposal and pest control:-
Organic and other types of waste should be kept away from food. Waste like biodegradable, nonbiodegradable, solid and liquid etc., should be segregated and disposed of as per local laws. Garbage should be covered and should be at a distance from workstations to avoid contamination. Pest control should be done periodically, and adequate measures should be taken to keep pests away from trash.
j) Guidelines for high-risk foods:-
Certain foods like confectionaries, uncooked meat, and sauces are categorised as high-risk foods. Extra care must be taken to handle this kind of food as they stand at a higher risk of getting contaminated due to change in the environment overheating etc.
Fssai guidelines for restaurants are very stringent with its rules and regulations, and negligence of the same can attract a strict penalty. Please see to it that all the above guidelines are met to keep your business trouble-free.