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Food in your hostel mess: Is it a mess?

Food in your hostel mess
Food in your hostel mess

It is not uncommon to find hostel inmates complaining or even protesting about the poor quality of food served in the hotel mess. This is because in most hostels food is supplied by private contractors who are selected on the basis of the lowest charges rather than food quality. It is possible the contractors do not have an FSSAI license or registration. Such food contractors have no knowledge of food safety and food safety best practices so they risk the health of young students and office going young adults staying in youth hostels. All stakeholders must be fully aware of food safety and nutrition so hostel inmates get quality, nutritious and safe food.

Non licensed food contractors could have food handlers who are

  • ignorant about the separation of raw and cooked foods
  • heating and reheating of foods
  • thawing and cooling of foods
  • handling of high-risk foods and refrigeration
  • food storing requirements
  • lack of basic knowledge of the importance of hand washing, personal hygiene, cleanliness, and sanitation

Wrong food practices in hostels

It is very difficult to handle and prepare food for bulk consumption in a safe manner if you do not have the knowledge of food safety guidelines. They may not realize that wrong food preparation and poor hygiene practices could contaminate the food which could affect a large number of hostel inmates. These are some of the food safety requirements that are often disregarded in hostels like

  • inadequate kitchen facilities and
  • poor sanitation condition of kitchens and storage spaces,
  • unclean utensils and chopping boards,
  • improper disposal of waste

Since the private food contractors wish to make a profit they tend to conveniently overlook a number of food safety requirements. If the FSSAI were to inspect these hostel messes then in the majority of these, they may observe;

  • Food served in the hostel is substandard, of poor quality and even stale
  • It has probably been bought from unlicensed vendors
  • Finding extraneous matter in the flour and pulses, worms in the decayed vegetables and fruit in mess kitchen is more common than you think.
  • Finding pests like mice and cockroaches roaming freely in the kitchen and dining premises, in most of the kitchens & storerooms.
  • Also, the same oil will be repeatedly used for frying as they do not follow FSSAI guidelines about using the same oil a maximum three times for frying.
  • Milk is an important food item in a hostel but a close check will reveal that it has come from an unsafe and unapproved supplier and is probably adulterated with water.

If the food samples in hostels were to be sent for testing to a food testing laboratory the samples would probably fail the quality test. Therefore the food in the hostels would be prone to contamination and which could further results in foodborne illnesses like diarrhea, typhoid, jaundice, etc. There must be a regular inspection of kitchens and testing of food would be carried out to ensure that hostel inmates are being served with a safe & hygienic food.

Measures for food safety in hostels

Food safety in hostels will only be possible if the hostel in-charge or those responsible for selecting food contractors

  • select only licensed/ registered food operators
  • food contractors must employ only trained personnel who are fully aware of personal hygiene
  • food handlers must have undergone medical examinations recently to ensure they are not infected by contagious diseases
  • all raw, as well as cooked food samples, must be tested regularly in a certified food testing lab to ensure food safety

What about the drinking water?

It is a well-known fact that in most hostels the drinking water provided is mostly tapped water. So to ensure drinking water safety the overhead tanks supplying water to the hostel kitchen and for drinking must be tested routinely. Action must be taken if the water analysis report test shows the presence of chemical and/or microbial impurities.

If you run a private hostel and wish to avail of our food, water, and other testing services we would be pleased to offer our assistance.

Do contact us at +91-8588851888

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