Majority of city’s food outlets ‘unhygienic’

More than 85 percent of Colombo food outlets – including leading hotels, restaurants and eating houses – fall badly short when it comes to basic hygiene standards, according to Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) chief medical officer, Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam.

Of the city’s approximately 800 food outlets, only 46 have been given a grade A rating under food hygiene and food safety regulations, and only 60 have merited a grade B.

Dr. Kariyawasam said even top hotels were guilty of sub-standard hygiene in their kitchens. This year the CMC took legal action against two five-star hotels on hygiene matters.

He said spot fining and more public health inspectors would help raise hygiene standards in eating outlets. “We have only four public health inspectors,” he said. “We need a team of at least 12 to conduct regular inspections of eating outlets. Also, the maximum fine of Rs. 5,000 is too low.”

Dr. Kariyawasam said the CMC and the National Chamber of Commerce would be working together next year to issue certificates to ensure higher standards of hygiene at food outlets. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points certificate will cover all aspects of food safety, he said.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Department is planning to hold a series of programmes to raise public awareness of food safety during food week, following World Food Day.

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