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Monday, June 7, 2010

Edition 24 : The Food For Thought….And Action, too!



The city of Pune is long known for the habit of its people to enjoy food. This has been enshrined in the history of Pune and become a part of the genes of its people. It is not surprising then that long before industrialisation and information technology led the way to prosperity for the Puneites, an industry burgeoned in the region known as food outlets.

Thousands of food outlets in the city not only became a place to relish the exotic and novel recipes, but also meeting point of sorts. The plethora of such places consisted of restaurants giving a feel of star hotels to the tea cart found on any roadside. As in any other field, the quality was soon taken over by the quantity. As new entrants came in, some of them brought with them dubious tricks and practices in the trade which had a considerable ill effect on the health of the populace consuming it.

On this backdrop, it must be welcomed that the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is to launch a drive to check food licences of hotels, restaurants and eateries in the city and crack down on those selling liquor and food items illegally. The issue was raised in the recently held General Body meeting of PMC.

Replying to protests raised by the members, Mahesh Zagade, municipal commissioner of Pune said, "The PMC will soon hold a meeting with food and drug authorities. Also, the health department of the PMC has assured me that a drive to check licence of all food centres in the city will be conducted and action will be taken against those operating without a PMC licence. Action will also be taken against those selling illegal liquor.”

Last week, the health department of PMC had issued notices to 34 well-known restaurants in the city for having unhygienic kitchens. However, the drive to ensure hygiene in restaurant kitchens did not include the roadside eateries, many of which are unauthorised. The corporators raised questions over how these unauthorised food stalls are allowed to operate near schools and educational institutions.

Allegations were made that these stalls often act as an illegal outlet for liquor. The PMC's health department was blamed for its ineffectiveness in curbing these malpractices. If the administration has some sensitivity left, it might act now as the social cost of the unhygienic food items is much more than the cost which might be accrued for taking action against them. People from all strata of society are prone to enjoy a bite or too of their favourite delicacy outside of their home. As tax paying citizen, they are entitled to receive safe and secure food, if not healthy.

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