HYDERABAD: There are increasing cases of unhygienic, adulterated and stale food being served in restaurants or delivered at home by online service providers. Harried consumers hold the officials concerned responsible for not acting in time to prevent such incidents.
Lizards, worms, cockroaches, hair strands, stapler pins, plastic and many such things have been found in food served in many restaurants. Foodies were horrified after a report that a lizard was found in a plate of chicken biryani delivered from a famous biryani outlet.
“Just by filing a case or suspending the food service at a few restaurants will not change anything. Why do food safety inspectors have to wait for the public to complain for conducting checks at restaurants? Why isn’t it conducted on a regular basis,” asked Ravi Kumar, a businessman.
A food inspector, on condition of anonymity, said restaurants were inspected regularly but raids were conducted only after a complaint was registered or if they got to know about substandard food being served or adulteration. “There are several food inspectors who conduct food safety checks. We have booked cases against many restaurants,” the food inspector claimed.
When the food is delivered through online app services, many restaurants refuse to take the food back in case there is a fault and blame the customer for adding such things.
Rajeshwari Sai, a college student said, “I live alone and work part-time. I do not have much time to cook, so I order food online. Whenever I complain about the food, they dismiss the matter by either giving some coupons or by saying sorry. But when I ask them to send the food back to the restaurant, they refuse to do so. Once I got four stapler pins in my food. I was so furious that I directly dialled the restaurant. The restaurant blamed me for adding stapler pins and refused to take my complaint,” she said.
Hygiene norms are given a go-by. When asked about not wearing gloves or cap, a cook from a famous food outlet at Mahatma Gandhi Road said it was difficult to wear gloves as they had to prepare a lot of items and the gloves tore out easily. “Also, there are many instances where I have to go out and collect cash or talk to customers due to shortage of staff. Wearing gloves and cap is not useful.”
A restaurant owner said they were tired of educating the staff about maintaining cleanliness, and felt helpless in enforcing it. Amit Kumar, who runs a North Indian restaurant near Paradise Circle, said, “We receive several complaints about rats running around the restaurant and flies swarming the tables, yet our restaurant is crowded with customers because our food is tasty. Not once has any food inspector walked into our restaurant for any inspection,” he said.