Food and eatables served at places of worship such as temples, gurdwaras, mosques and churches would soon have to follow stringent quality control norms with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launching the ‘blissful hygienic offering to god (Bhog) scheme. The project aims at mandatory adoption of food safety and hygiene standards in preparation of ‘prasad’ for devotees.
The food regulator has in a letter to the commissioner of food safety of all states and Union Territories asked for the rollout of Bhog project without delay. They have also been asked to nominate a nodal officer to handle initial glitches in the rollout. FSSAI has finalised a guidance document on maintaining food safety and hygiene in places of worship.
Along with ensuring the quality of food being served at places of worship, the food regulator has also mandated that the initiative should be properly advertised to sensitise devotees and other people about the issue.
“The task would not be easy as we are trying to align faith with reason. Faith is sacred and ascribing external standards here would not be easy. But we are trying to build awareness about the need for standards and hygiene through workshops that also involve a drive for training and understanding among people responsible for preparing food and ‘prasad’ for devotees,” said a government official privy to the development.
Under the new system, raw material for ‘prasad’ would be standardised and tested for contamination. Certain cooking processes would also be defined by FSSAI while new safety norms would be put in place to be carried out by trained food handlers.
Hygiene will be maintained not only in the ‘prasad’ kitchen but al at stall for its sale and distribution in vicinity of places of worship.
Good manufacturing practices are already entering places of worship like Sidhivinayak temple where ‘prasad’ is prepared using standard equipment without touched by food handlers. In many temples in Tamil Nadu, RO (reverse osmosis) plants have been set up to provide safe water.
Prasad-making kitchens of religious places and vendors are expected to get registered with FSSAI, take appropriate licence and follow sanitary and hygiene practices as per the food safety standards regulation. The new norm would bind these across the country with universal regulations.