The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control has been using a mobile laboratory to test the quality of food at eateries along the East-West Highway.
A monitoring team of government officials from the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) found that only 15 out of 258 eateries operating along the East-West Highway have been serving hygienic food.
Following many cases of adulteration in food items served by the highway hotels, the DFTQC has launched a nationwide campaign for monitoring them since last year.
As a part of the campaign, the team inspected 258 eateries along the East-West Highway, which is one of the longest and busiest national highways, and came up with the shocking finding.
Upon monitoring the eateries operating in six different market areas along highways in central, mid-western and far western developed regions, DFTQC has started inspection of the hotels from Gaindakot of Nawalparasi district on Monday. The inspection this time, according to the department, will conclude at Daune farther west in Nawalparasi district along the highway.
Following the monitoring, DFTQC has issued with green, yellow and red stickers to the eateries.
According to DFTQC Director General (DG) Jeevan Prabha Lama, green stickers are issued to those hotels and restaurants found to have been maintaining basic hygiene, cleanliness and food quality. Likewise, those with average standards are provided with yellow stickers while the red ones are given to those serving unhygienic foods and meeting hardly any standards.
Lama further said that hygienic food volunteer group is formed with participation of hoteliers from monitoring area before the hotels and restaurants are graded.
The group is responsible for raising awareness about standards to be followed by the eateries.
Food inspector Ishwor Subedi of DFTQC informed that eateries that the department has monitored so far are from Ramnagar and Mugling of Chitwan, Malekhu of Dhading, Dhalkebar of Dhanusha, Kohalpur of Bardiya and Chisapani of Kailali district.
Subedi further said that those areas were chosen as they were the major pit stops along the highways where travelers stop for food and snacks.
“Hoteliers have not been maintaining cleanliness and serving hygienic food since they think that commuters could not complain about their health hazards since the travelers reach different places. So, we have focused on monitoring them,” Subedi said. “We have to be extra cautious also because if adulterated food make travelers sick, the disease is more likely to spread to different parts of the country.”
As per food monitoring guideline of the department, hotels and restaurants should paste the stickers on their signboard so that people could avoid eating at the hotels and restaurants bearing yellow and red stickers.
Soon the department is planning to paste the notice of the eateries in all the long-distance passenger buses, Subedi informed.
The volunteer groups formed in those areas monitor hotels receiving such grades. District-based government food inspectors visit them twice a year for a follow-up monitoring. If the eateries are found below the standard during their visit, action will initiated against them immediately.
“However, the quality of food served in eateries along the highways has improved following our monitoring,” Lama noted.