Home cooks selling food during lockdown face harsh penalty if not registered

Those selling home-cooked food to generate income during the pandemic could end up paying Rs 5 lakh as fine and imprisonment for up to six months, depending on the nature of the offence committed, if they fail to comply with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)’s rules making registration mandatory before selling to customers.

During the lockdown, many people started selling home-made food to make ends meet. Several people entered the food business offering homemade items like bakery products such as cakes and pastries, among others. However, many are not aware of the perils of failing to get registered first.

With several aggregators offering home-cooked food at low prices to attract customers, Adarsh Shetty, ex-president and advisor to AHAR -Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association said, "When you open a food delivery app, advertisements pop up such as those advertising biryani at Rs 150. From where is this low cost food made available, as restaurants/hotels won't sell food at such low prices? The answer is, it comes from the homemade food suppliers. The aggregators pick up the food from them. Since the home made food is indirectly competing with the local restaurants and hotels they should be registered and we welcome FSSAI insistence on registration."

Shetty said the registration process is very simple, but many are not aware of it. Asked whether home chefs are eating into the business of restaurants, Shetty replied, "It’s not as such, because homemade food sellers may not supply food in bulk quantity like any restaurant/hotel can do in minutes. They are not our competitors because the aggregators are acting merely as a delivery agent for them. The only point is they all should register."

To avoid consequences, one can simply visit the FSSAI website and follow the procedures specified. Registration can be completed by uploading a photo ID and photo.

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