Tighter food safety standards from January 2017



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Director of Consumer Affairs and Information of the Consumer Affairs Authority,
Chandrikathilakaratne


by Randima Attygalle


With the aim of improving consumer food hygiene, a Direction under Section 12(2) of the Consumer Affairs Authority Act No 09 of 2003 will be coming into operation with effect from January 1, 2017. Accordingly, no trader, caterer, supplier of processed food and/or any other person/persons shall engage in the business of mass catering and/or outdoor catering or other similar or connected activity/activities unless they obtain the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) process certification from the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI).


Director of Consumer Affairs and Information of the Consumer Affairs Authority, Chandrika Tilakaratne said the direction will come into operation two years hence giving those concerned ample time to restructure their enterprises accordingly. "Our investigating officers together with Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) of the Ministry of Health carried out a field investigation in Pettah on the Consumer Rights Day in March this year and we discovered several food outlets preparing and dispensing food under most unhygienic conditions."


Among the findings were poor storing of food, leaking roofs, bare bodied cooks preparing food, poor sanitation facilities and stale food being served. "This issue has been highlighted in the media from time to time and with the objective of ensuring consumer food safety, we have teamed up with SLSI to make Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) process certification obtained by SLSI mandatory from 2017." The direction covers a wide spectrum of food-related businesses including mass caterers and outdoor caterers.


According to Consumer Affairs Authority statistics, from January to July this year, 11,961 raids had been carried out island wide. Out of these, 1,167 raids had been done in Colombo city alone. Among


the findings were use of inferior quality oil for frying, re-use of oil, food adulteration and lack of proper sanitation and storing facilities are notable. To create awareness among eatery owners, 215 campaigns had been organized from January to end July this year.


The Direction will be implemented adhering to Sri Lanka Standard 956: 1992 which is the Code of Hygienic Practice for Catering Establishments and Sri Lanka Standard 143: 1999 which is the Code of Practice for General Principles of Food Hygiene (Second Revision). Deputy Director General, SLSI, Nayana Satharasinghe said that under the Food Act, regulations are in force on hygienic aspects of places that deal with food. However, the Direction that will come into effect from 2017 would require getting mandatory GMP Certification by traders, caterers, suppliers of processed food and/or any other person/persons engaged in the business of mass catering and/or outdoor catering or other similar or connected activity/activities. "This mandatory certification would strengthen the implementation of the safe food manufacturing law. The eating places and catering services and all other parties governed by the Direction, once certified, would be subjected to surveillance to ensure continuation of best hygienic practices which we believe would help assure food safety."


Code of Hygienic Practice for Catering Establishments recommends hygienic practices to be adopted in all catering establishments and it applies to catering in hotels, restaurants and other institutions such as schools, hospitals, plants and factories. Provisions are made for proper sanitary facilities and controls which includes water supply, hand-washing and toilet facilities, prevention of pests, drainage and waste disposal, living quarters and staff amenities. Moreover, the Code also stipulates provisions for construction and layout of the premises, handling of food and operational requirements, hygiene standards of personnel and cleaning procedures.


Sri Lanka Standard 143: 1999 which is the Code of Practice for General Principles of Food Hygiene (Second Revision) provides guidance to the manufacturers and other related persons as to ensure hygienic handling of food products. The Code also follows the food chain from primary production to the final consumer, setting out the necessary hygiene conditions for producing food which is safe and suitable for consumption. It provides a base-line structure for other, more specific, codes applicable to particular sectors.


 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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