islamabad - The capital city administration is going to develop a grading system for restaurants in the city and asked them to undertake self-assessment based on the checklist to avoid punitive action.
The move is aimed at ensuring quality of food at the eateries. Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Captain (Retd) Mushtaq Ahmad told a press conference yesterday that grading system would help maintain quality of food items at the restaurants. He said the campaign against food outlets serving substandard items to the customers has yielded positive results. The campaign was started on the directions of interior minister in August-September, 2015, he added.
Giving a comparison of the raids made in 2014 and 2015-16 in connection with food laws, weights and measures and labour laws, the DC said the local administration checked 734 premises in 2014 and a collective fine of around five lak rupees was imposed on the violators. On the other side, he added, the administration checked 2107 premises from August, 2015 till date as a result of which 177 FIRs were registered and 895 persons were arrested. They were collectively fined Rs 15 million over violation of sections of different laws, he added.
The DC said that the administration has observed trickledown effect of the campaign against the food outlets and added roadside hotels in the suburbs of the city even have started observing hygiene standards. He said, as a result of the campaign, 90 percent sheesha centres in the city have also been closed. The sources in the city administration said that eateries would be divided into different categories as A, B, C, and D based on their score in the range up to 100. The administration will seal all eateries falling in high risk category (below 50 score).
Meanwhile, the owners can improve their score and get their outlets de-sealed after an inspection. The grading system also includes negative marking. A restaurant can lose points for violation of various directives. The sources said the Category-A eateries will be inspected every three months, Category-B every two months, Category-C every month and Category-D every fortnight. He said that ICT food laws have become obsolete and added a new draft law is being sent to the interior ministry for its onward submission to the law and justice division. He said once passed the law would help the administration maintaining food quality standards in the city.
The sources further said that the points would be given to the restaurants keeping in view the food quality and kitchen sanitation, quality of oil and ghee, quality of meat, poultry or fish; quality of spices, ketchup and mayonnaise, quality of vegetable and pulses. Restaurants will lose points if they are found using expired ingredients. Efficient drainage and a safe distance from toilets, proper cover on food items, clean utensils, clean premises, proper ventilation and lighting would be the hallmark of hygiene standards in the restaurants, the sources said. Kitchens where teams find flies, insects, cats or rodents during inspections will face punitive action. The sources said that the city administration would ensure use of head and beard covers, properly cut hair and nails, no rings and cuts on hands, and use of clean clothes by the restaurant staff, violators of which would lose points. The sources said food premises with a high food grading would be given incentives in the shape of less registration fees than those with a low food grading. To a question, the DC said that the administration would approach CDA for regular water supply connection and proper drainage system at the tea stalls, kiosks and small hotels in the city so as to ensure hygiene standards.
The DC further said that the administration has decided to procure equipment to check quality of petroleum products at the filling stations. He said majority of the city’s filling stations were found to have tampered with the measuring tools after which the administration has decided to ensure quantity and quality of the petroleum products.