The Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI) has said it intends to regulate public kitchens run by temple trusts in association with state regulators.
The food regulator had approached the Siddhivinayak and Shirdi temple trusts in Maharashtra and found them open to the idea of scrutiny, said Pawan Agarwal, the chief executive officer of FSSAI. “While temple trusts do get a licence from the FSSAI to run public kitchens, we are speaking of taking public health and safety to the next level by adhering to food safety standards. This calls for greater awareness and scrutiny, which we propose to do along with state food regulators.”
Read more from our special coverage on "FSSAI"
Sanjiv S Patil, executive officer of Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple Trust, said the regulator had surveyed the temple’s public kitchen two months ago and advised them on food safety standards. “We have joined hands with the FSSAI and the Association of Food Scientists & Technologists of India for standardisation and to maintain the quality of the prasadam we offer. We are committed to maintaining our quality standards.”
Nearly 100,000 devotees visit the Shree Siddhivinayak temple each day in Mumbai.
In Kerala, where the popular Sabarimala temple is located, food safety officers do checks at regular intervals to ensure the food served at the temple is safe.
In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, too, major temples have been moving to an automated process of making food, state officials noted.
“We keep a close watch on temple kitchens to ensure hygiene is maintained. Kitchens have been automated to ensure human intervention is limited,” said an official from the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department, under which major temples in Tamil Nadu fall.