The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has welcomed Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)’s enforcement rules making registration mandatory for home-cooked food sellers. The apex body of the Indian hospitality industry, Association has stated that food operators, whether operating from home or from dark kitchens, should be regulated for cleanliness and hygiene. If a law is applicable for hotels and restaurants, then it should be applicable to any such businesses that serve food. It has also pointed out that unregistered, unregulated Food Business Operators (FBOs) may not be maintaining hygiene standards, which is detrimental to the interest of consumers and poses health risks. The FHRAI has thanked the FSSAI for taking action on the pleas made by it and for clamping down on such fly by night food operators.
Speaking about this, says Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI, said, “FSSAI has responded to our plea and is taking to task any such unregulated and illegal dark kitchens. Quite a few of these are actually funded and run by the Food Service Aggregators (FSAs) to escape responsibilities attached to operating restaurants legally and of course, also taxes. This causes a huge loss to the State and the exchequer. Not to mention the questionable hygiene standards, because there is no one to monitor and they are not registered under FSSAI.”
‘Food delivery service providers claim to be part of the Hospitality industry, but they are not’
In the past, in its representations to the DPIIT, the FHRAI had voiced concerns regarding FSAs listing such illegal establishments on their portals or food delivery apps. It had suggested to the Ministry that FSAs were complicit in encouraging and giving recognition to many unregistered dark kitchen operators.
The FHRAI has asked for the FSAs to be held accountable and if need be, taken to task if they continue listing illegal and unregulated players. “The FSAs initially had entered the market as food delivery service providers, but today claim to be part of the Hospitality industry. They are not. Now they have started their own funded establishments under several names, many of which are just dark kitchens operating with no licenses or permissions. All they need to do is to make the food look presentable to the customer on the app and the kitchen’s hygiene and cleanliness is never a concern. Then promote it vociferously online with deep discounting and predatory business practices and kill the legally compliant restaurants and hotels,” added Pradeep Shetty, Joint Honorary Secretary, FHRAI and Vice President, HRAWI.
The FHRAI has also emphasized on the need for creating a level playing field for all players in the hospitality enterprise. It has said that several dark kitchens are operating without any conformation to standard hospitality or kitchen hygiene practices.