Representational Image | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Kollam: Less than 20 religious places in Kerala have adopted safety standards mandated by the Food Safety Department over food offered to devotees as 'prasad'.
At the same time, Tamil Nadu has already adopted the safety standards under “Blissful Hygienic Offering to God” (BHOG), an initiative put forth by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in around 500 temples.
FSSAI launched the project in the country to encourage Places of Worship (PoW) to adopt and maintain hygiene and educate the public on food safety. It seeks to encourage places of worship to adopt and maintain food safety measures in preparation, serving prasad, and training staff for basic food safety and hygiene.
All places of religious worship, including Temples, Mosques and Gurudwaras, come under the project.
Even though more religious places have shown interest in receiving training and inputs from the food safety department, less than 20 places have completed training to be certified so far. It is worth noting that Kerala has more than 100 religious places distributing prasad and arranging free food three times a day. However, these places have shown little interest in adhering to safety standards mandated by the government.
The “Blissful Hygienic Offering to God” (BHOG) certification includes various stages of verification and inspections, starting with the officials conducting a food safety audit in the kitchens to test the water, oil and other ingredients used. Training will be provided to priests and other staff members to ensure hygiene while preparing eatables. Further, the infrastructure of the cooking area will also be reviewed for hygiene.
A licence will be issued by the food and safety department if all conditions are met. Based on the findings, the state officials will file a report to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. Later, the religious places that met the criteria will receive BHOG certificates.