Kochi: The food safety department has deployed special squads at popular tourist spots across the state to ensure that quality products are offered at reasonable prices, especially to tourists, as the New Year is fast approaching. “This time we’re focusing more on tourist spots. Our mere presence will force the traders to enhance hygiene and avoid malpractices. We’ve inducted 85 FSOs (food safety officers) after they completed training and their services will be utilised in full,” said Mr K. Anilkumar, joint commissioner of food safety. Special squads have been deployed at tourist spots like Kovalam, Varkala Sivagiri beach and Fort Kochi among destinations.
“We’ll conduct surprise checks on the quality of products like wine and bakery items besides inspecting stalls of small vendors too. The action is being taken in the wake of large number of complaints during the last season,” said A.K. Mini, assistant commissioner of food safety in charge of Thiruvananthapuram district.
Food safety commissioner Veena N. Madhavan has directed the formation of the special squads under the direct monitoring of assistant commissioners. “The service of the squads should be made available round the clock. The vehicles allotted for the quick reaction teams should be provided for the squads for effective functioning. Action taken report should be forwarded without fail,” she said in her order.
The action comes two days after another special drive was held across the state to check food essence, flavouring, colours, preservatives and also the hygiene of bakery manufacturing units, boric food markets and homely food shops among others in connection with the Christmas festival. “In the drive held from December 12 to 22, a total of 4,900 institutions (bakery manufacturing units, boric food markets, homely food shops) were inspected and improvement notices were issued against 1,800 of them. “Closure notices were slapped against 43 shops found to be in poor hygiene and a fine of Rs 34.5 lakh was levied in total,” Mr Anilkumar said.