Get FDA licence or face shutdown, Vishwajit warns restaurants

Sunday, 1 March 2020

"After 30 days, we are going to crack down on the restaurants which don't have (FDA) licence."
Vishwajit Rane, Health Minister

PANAJI: The Goa government on Saturday warned all "high-value" restaurants operating along the coastal belt in the State to obtain the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) licence within a month or face shutdown.

The warning comes amid concerns over rising food adulteration and use of carcinogenic chemicals in fruits and vegetables by traders. The government said it also plans to carry out random tests on the fruits and vegetables procured by five-star hotels in the state.

"All restaurants, high-value restaurants operating in tourism belt without FDA permission would be shut down. It's my warning to them - please come and get the licence within 30 days," Health Minister Vishwajit Rane told PTI on Saturday.

"After 30 days, we are going to crack down on the restaurants which don't have (FDA) licence," he said.

The FDA, which is part of the health department, has started conducting checks at markets in various cities in the state to take action against traders who use harmful substances to ripen fruits or to make vegetables look attractive.
The FDA has so far conducted checks at the markets in Mapusa, Ponda, Margao and Panaji cities.

"The action against restaurants in the coastal belt is part of pan-Goa drive against food adulteration and usage of carcinogenic chemicals in fruits and vegetables...Some traders use artificial ripening substances and other harmful material," Vishwajit said.

"The government has made it mandatory even for hawkers selling fruits and vegetables to obtain FDA licences, but those who invest crores of rupees are operating restaurants without this mandatory document," he added.
"Through the FDA, the government has been aggressively taking action against the artificial ripening of fruits as cases of cancer are rising in Goa," the minister said.
A week back, Vishwajit had chaired a high-level meeting of FDA officials, in which he directed them to crack down on fruit-vegetable vendors using harmful substances.
He said the health department has also decided to write to five-star and other hotels asking them to reveal from where they procure fruits and vegetables.
"The five-star hotels and other hotels will be asked to tell the places from where fruits and vegetables are purchased. We will carry out random tests on the fruits and vegetables procured by them. We will do this in consultation with the tourism bodies, so that it does not become hindrance to the tourism industry," the minister said.

On Saturday, the FDA conducted surprise checks at the Panaji fruit and vegetable market in association with the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP).
"It is necessary for us to take such pro-active steps. Lakhs of rupees of bananas and apples have been destroyed during the recent action, as they were found to have been ripened using calcium carbide and other chemicals," Vishwajit said.

"We are also checking brinjal, which is said to be dipped in carcinogenic chemical in order to give it a glossy and attractive look," he added.
According to Vishwajit, the FDA would upgrade its laboratory near Panaji so that the collected samples can be tested immediately. "We can immediately get to know which chemical has been used," Vishwajit said.

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