Grading eateries: A decisive step towards ensuring food safety

Nilratan Halder | Published: January 25, 2019 20:53:43 | Updated: January 25, 2019 21:08:25

There are complaints galore all around against eateries -be those street facilities or the ones presenting a digitally astounding look. Here is a capital that has to its credit the most infamous reputation of serving meat of dead chicken and even dog meat. And such things happened or the allegations made not once but quite a few times. Understandably, such hotels and restaurants are of the lower to lowest grades. But what if one of the topmost bakeries is fined Tk 1,800,000 for the malpractice of mixing unsold stale cakes and pastries with the fresh dough in its factory? Yes, the mobile court caught the culprits red-handed at the time of committing the act.

It is against this background, the authorities have undertaken a daunting task of ensuring food safety at the city's hotels and restaurants. The authorities have started listing eateries under a pilot project right now. But gradually its range and scope will be expanded. With the introduction of stickers, visitors will know before entering an eatery the quality of the hotel or cafeteria. If a restaurant has green sticker (A+), its environment is spick and span and the foods it serves is completely safe. The next grade is blue (A) meaning good, yellow (B) means the eatery is of the average type and orange (C) means it is unsafe. Eateries with yellow stickers will be given three months' time to upgrade themselves, failing which their licences will be cancelled. Similarly, the hotels and restaurants bearing orange stickers will be given just one month's time to improve their standard or their licences too will be revoked.

Clearly, the initiative is good and it should be executed by all means. In this part of the world people are much too lax about the foods they eat and the process of their preparation. Even if preparation maintains hygienic procedures, foods are often served most casually at which point those can be unsafe for eating. Then people do not follow the basic rules of washing hands before eating foods. In moving public buses they buy snacks from hawkers only to use their unwashed hands to eat those. With the same hands they hold the handle of the vehicles' doors, the rods and seats in front of them and still they feel no qualms about eating.

It is too much to expect from such customers to enquire about the standard of restaurants. When hungry, they will visit any place -no matter dirty or nauseating -to have something to fill their stomachs. Against such mentality, the task the authorities have taken up in their hands is really highly challenging. If customers are not aware of the sanitary and hygienic requirements, the service providers are not expected to do the onerous duty of reminding them of the need, unless of course it causes them some losses.

In a country where foods are adulterated and otherwise chemically contaminated for various reasons, the chief among them being reaping of unearned profit, the initiative is indeed an oasis amidst endless aridity of desert. Let there be no doubt that quality of foods improves with the standard of life. Beggars have no choice. With thin purse, people have to eat the cheapest foods on offer. And in most cases, anything cheap has to compromise on quality.

Yet the story is not full without noting the fact that some are compulsively addicted to street foods. To them, the taste of such foods is incomparably unique. Even the five-star hotel's treat is poorer to the taste of a cup of tea a local tea-stall serves. Maybe, but gastronomic laxity, more often than not, exacts punishment or even proves fatal for some.

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