More than three out of every five restaurants and eateries in Chennai including food businesses comprising of 50% government-run outlets, operate without a valid licence.According to data available with the state food safety department, only 9,900 of 24,636 food businesses in Chennai, including restaurants, street food stalls, fruits and vegetable shops, and other retail outlets that sell edibles, have either registered with the department or procured licences.
The Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulations, 2011, mandates a licence for any food business with an annual turnover of more than Rs 2 lakh. Those with a lower turnover must register with the state food safety department. After eight extensions, the last deadline for acquiring licences expired in August 2016.
R Kathiravan, food safety officer, Chennai, said that the department sporadically inspects illegal units based on tips, licensing would help to keep tabs. “Before we issue licences or register them, we check the quality of water and materials used for cooking, hygiene of workers and other sanitary conditions,” he said.