In a bid to increase the number of recognised hygiene-rating audit agencies in the country, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Tuesday said that the Quality Council of India (QCI), at its behest, has come out with a scheme for the approval of hygiene-rating audit agencies.

This is being done after the FSSAI launched a certification system for restaurants, hotels and cafeterias among others under its ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’. Under this initiative, these food establishments will be rated based on food hygiene and safety parameters by recognised hygiene-rating audit agencies. The food safety authority believes this will enable consumers to make informed decisions about consuming food at outlets that have higher hygiene ratings and also incentivise food establishments to improve their hygiene ratings.

“The hygiene rating will be in the form of a smiley (1 to 5) and the certificate should be displayed prominently in the consumer-facing area. The recognised hygiene-rating audit agencies will be responsible for verifying compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures laid by the FSSAI and get hygiene ratings,” the food safety authority said in a statement.

Arun Singhal, CEO, FSSAI, said, “The Hygiene Rating Scheme can be instrumental in creating awareness amongst the consumers and developing a culture of self-compliance amongst food business operators. It will improve the quality of the food supply and increase demand as well. I urge all eligible food businesses to implement the Hygiene Rating Scheme in their premises.”

Currently, the scheme is applicable for food service establishments such as hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, dhabhas, sweet shops, bakeries and meat retail stores.

Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, QCI, said that the scheme will help in improving the confidence of the Indian consumer and food service operators in the basic hygiene and quality of the food. “These kinds of standards and conformity assessment always lead to an improved demand for the food service outlets and improved confidence among the consumers,” he added.