FSSAI’s initiative of ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’ is a certification system for food businesses supplying food directly to consumers, either on or off premises. Currently, this scheme is applicable for Food service establishments (such as hotels, restaurants, cafeteria, dhabhas, etc.) sweet shops, bakeries and meat retail stores. The food establishments will be rated based on food hygiene and safety conditions observed at the time of an audit conducted by a Hygiene Rating Auditing Agency. The hygiene rating will be in the form of smileys (1 up to 5) and the certificate should be displayed prominently in the consumer facing area.
On the request of the FSSAI, Quality Council of India (QCI) has come out with a Scheme for the approval and recognition of Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies. The recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies will be responsible for verifying the compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures as laid down by FSSAI to give the appropriate Hygiene Rating. With an increase in the number of recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies in the country it would be possible to scale up the hygiene ratings of food outlets. The detail of the scheme is available on QCI’s website.
Shri Arun Singhal, CEO FSSAI stated that the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme can be instrumental in creating awareness amongst the consumers and developing a culture of self-compliance amongst food business operators. It will improve quality of food supply and increase demand as well. CEO, FSSAI also urged all eligible food businesses to implement Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in their premises.
Mr. Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, QCI wished success for the scheme and termed the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and its recognition as an excellent initiative of FSSAI and QCI. The scheme would help in improving the confidence of the Indian consumer and food service operators in the basic hygiene and quality of the food. These kinds of standards and conformity assessments always lead to an improved demand for the food service outlets and improved confidence in the consumer.
Dr. R. P. Singh, Secretary General, QCI made mention that food hygiene and safety has become a big concern, especially during the pandemic. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is therefore, an important initiative of both the FSSAI and QCI as it would allay concerns of consumers about food safety and hygiene.
The Scheme aims to allow consumers to make informed choices or decisions pertaining to the food outlets that they frequent. Since the recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agency will verify the compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures as laid down by the FSSAI, the scheme would also encourage food businesses to improve their hygiene and safety standards. In other words, this initiative will definitely help consumers to choose the right outlets and will provide incentive to food outlets to create trust in their brand and improve their visibility within this growing sector.