Recently in the Trichy district of Tamil Nadu, the FDA has made it compulsory for all the devotees and the food stalls to go for the registration certificate before they can participate in ‘Annadhanam’ on occasion of Vaikunta Ekadesi on January 11, 2014. Everyone whosoever wants to take part in ‘Annadhanam’ is required to go for the registration with a nominal fee of Rs. 100.
One has to apply for the registration and upon the inspection of the designated food safety officer, they will be allowed to prepare and then to distribute the food. No food stall will be allowed to operate in Trichy area on the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadesi, if they have not been granted permission by the administrative bodies. The people have been taken by surprise for such an announcement but many of them are happy and they believe that it will ensure good quality of food for the safety of the people.
The apex body on food safety in India The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has made it mandatory for all the participants of the food related activities at religious places to ensure a safe food in compliance to Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Religious Places are regarded as the places of Gods in India and are strongly attached with the sentiments of the people. People visit religious places in search of peace and worship and the food served at such places is regarded as a divine offering of the God. The Devotees visiting such places are high in number especially during specific days of the season or on special Pooja functions. The management of such units is responsible for providing hygiene food which is free from contamination. Usually it is the management of the temple which takes care of bhandara but on many occasions, individuals or groups (Devotees) organize Bhandaras and Chhabeels in or around the religious setup, are responsible for serving safe food which is fit for human consumption.
Some of the basic requirements for preparing and serving food on religious places are:
The place where the food is prepared should be clean and free from external pollutants.
All ingredients should be thoroughly checked on quality parameters. The food storage conditions should be hygienic. The water being used for the food activities should be as per recommended standards.
The food should be served in a good hygienic condition.
There has to be an arrangement for disposing off the waste matter like disposable plates, glasses etc. during and after the completion of Bhandara, Langars etc.