One of the most rapidly growing cities in the country, Hyderabad is also seeing a steady rise in the number of restaurants and eateries. More the number of eateries, more the number of food safety professionals needed to make sure the food safety and hygiene standards are being maintained. It so happens that there aren’t enough food safety inspectors in Hyderabad to keep up with the increasing food outlets.
Currently, Hyderabad has two gazetted food inspectors and one second-grade commissioner holding higher offices. With the lack of food safety inspectors, the task of addressing the grievances, inspecting hotels and restaurants fall on the shoulders of these officials. Owing to this severe shortage of officials, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is flooded with complaints, most of which haven’t yet been addressed.
The recent incident of cockroaches found in food served in a Subway outlet definitely stirred things up at the food safety department of Hyderabad. The incident went viral and turned attention to the lack of food inspectors to monitor the city so that such incidents do not happen.
“A majority of our complaints come on the phone, but we cannot address them immediately. What can we do? We are just three people expected to cover an entire city,” said an official to The News Minute. Out of the five zones in GHMC, the north and west zones are completely ignored due to the absence of officers. “Besides doing our official duty, we additionally have to oversee protocol arrangements of the Chief Minister, President, Vice-President, etc. It’s not just one thing we are doing. We also have to go to the courts. Each officer is handling at least 30 cases from the court and has to be present when the court summons us,” the official added.
According to the officer, before 2010, there were 7 food safety inspectors in Hyderabad, which dropped to 5 in 2012, following the retirement of two. The number further dwindled to four, among which one officer was caught by the Anti-Corruption Bureau for indulging in corruption, resulting in just three officers in post right now.
“For the past three years, just three of us are overseeing everything. The government should employ food inspectors and reduce our burden,” the officer said to TNM.