SRINAGAR: Special inspection teams formulated by Food and Drug Control department to ensure that bakers follow best hygiene practices have failed to achieve desired results. Most bakeries, officials admit, kept their product ready up to three weeks before Eid, leaving officials powerless to monitor the preparation processes.
Hilal Ahmed Mir, assistant commissioner in the Food and Drug Control department, admitted that most bakeries did not maintain standard hygiene. “Some of them don’t know the right quantity of preservatives to be used in bakery products. We have formulated a team which has passed directions of how to maintain hygiene but many of them (bakers) go against our directions. Still we are trying to move in this direction.”
Mir said that his teams had destroyed stale bakery products during raids over the last few days at various bakery outlets in Srinagar. A direction was passed to all of them to maintain hygiene and bake fresh products within two or three days ahead of Eid, he said.
“Also it was stressed that cold storage system be installed in bakery shops so that bakery items stay fresh. For this we have three mobile testing facilities wherein we check the products for freshness. Consumers also need to take a bit of lead in this,” he said.
The case of hygiene, however, is further deteriorated by installation of open bakery stalls at every nook and corner of the city. Most of these stalls have no cover on their products and layers of dust settle down on the bakery, leaving it unsafe for consumption. These stalls occupying roads and choke the traffic, leaving passengers stranded.
“We have not given them permission for roadside installation of bakery stalls. The authority lies with SMC and police. But with respect to operation of these stalls, we have directed them to cover the products properly as dust from roads and harmful smoke from vehicles makes them poisonous if left uncovered,” said Mir.
“But we know most of them are not doing that, so action will be taken against them whenever we find someone breaching the orders. So far, we have sealed six bakery shops and impose a fine of 10,000 rupees each.”
Bakeries are also selling products at inflated rates despite Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution department issuing price lists for essential commodities.
“Bakery is an unorganized sector, as it is operating in small streets as well as in big commercial hubs. So it hard to keep in check the rates at which they sell certain item. And being essential commodity, bakers fix the rates themselves. That doesn’t, however, mean they will charge exorbitant rates.”
Divisional commissioner Kashmir has sought a meeting with all the stake holders to fix uniform rates for bakery. “But it is in process and will be applied from next Eid at the earliest. Every bakery will have a proper rate list so that consumers won’t be cheated,” Mir said.