54 shawarma joints found violating food safety rules in statewide inspection

Photo: Hakan Tanak/Shutterstock.com

Thiruvananthapuram: In a statewide inspection conducted by the Food Safety Department, 54 eateries and restaurants that sell shawarma were ordered to stop making the dish after they were found to be operating in violation of the standards, said Health Minister Veena George. Around 43 squads inspected 502 food establishments across the state. While 88 restaurants were served compounding notices, 61 were issued rectification notices. The minister said special inspections were being held concerning food safety ahead of summer.

The inspections were held after the department received a complaint that shawarma was being made in unsanitary environments. Under the supervision of Food Safety Commissioner Jafar Malik, Joint Commissioner Food Safety Thomas Jacob, and Deputy Commissioners S Aji, G Raghunatha Kurup and V K Pradeep Kumar led the inspections.

According to the Food Safety Department, those preparing shawarma – a popular street food which is believed to have originated in Turkey and is made of spit-roasted layers of chicken, lamb or beef that are sliced and often wrapped in or served with pita bread – should be aware of the scientific cooking method and ensure the safety guidelines are implemented in their establishment by attending the department's awareness classes. The stand and table used in the primary stage of preparation should be kept clean and dust-free. All shawarma stands must be equipped with a tray to collect the drip from the corner.

The freezers (-18°C) and chillers (4°C) used in the preparation process should be kept clean at all times and maintain the correct temperature. Pedal-operated waste bins must be installed and the waste should be disposed of at regular intervals. Those handling food must wear a hair cap, gloves and clean apron. A medical fitness certificate is mandatory for those engaged in handling the food. After 4 hours of continuous cooking, the meat remaining on the cone should not be used.

When handing over shawarmas as parcels, ensure the date of manufacture, time and instructions to consume it within one hour are properly labelled on it. It is also proposed that all hotels and restaurants should voluntarily obtain a hygiene rating from the Food Safety Authority. 

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