Ten Gurudwaras in the national capital including the historical Bangla Sahib Gurudwara have implemented the food safety and hygiene standards set by food regulator The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
The stricter set of food safety standards and hygiene have been put in place at all the 10 Gurudwaras where around one lakh devotees partake Langar, said Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjit Singh.
FSSAI has initiated Project BHOG (Blissful Hygienic Offering to God) to encourage all places of worship in the country to adopt and maintain food safety and hygiene in the preparation of Prasad.
The project was among the Safe and Nutritious Food (SNF) bouquet of initiatives launched by the country’s apex food regulator last year.
“DSGMC has surpassed the stringent targets set by Union Ministry of Health under FSSAI’s project BHOG to ensure that Sikh Sangat (visiting devotees) are served safe, hygienic and nutritious prasad at all the ten historic gurudwaras managed by it in national capital,” Singh claimed.
Around one lakh devotees partake Prasad (Guru Ka Langar) in these Gurdwaras on weekdays and the number rises more than five lakhs on weekend and festive occasions, he said.
The management committee has set up food safety and hygiene standards for the community kitchens preparing Langar and Prasad with rules related with procurement of ingredients like ghee, vegetables, milk and grains.
Desi ghee and edible oils purchased by the committee for use in Langar are standardised and tested for purity in government labs. Payment to suppliers is made only after the lab reports are obtained, he said.
Vegetables are directly procured from Azadpur Mandi to ensure freshness and nutritional contents, while fortified staple items rice, flour and milk are procured to make prasad nutritious and wholesome, he said.
Reverse osmosis plants have been set up to provide clean water for cooking to prevent contamination of food.
Apart from materials used, the training and adoption of hygienic practices by the food handlers are being closely monitored, Singh said.
All regular employees engaged in Langar kitchen are required to wear aprons, gloves and head covers. Certain items like chapatis are prepared using standard equipment without being touched by food handlers.
All Langar premises are cleaned twice a day to ensure proper sanitation and hygiene standards, he said.
The management committee is in regular touch with civic agencies to ensure strict adherence to guidelines and directives for hygienic maintenance of Langar places.
A non-profit group has been engaged by the committee for regular training and updating of the Langar employees and food handlers in matters relating to food safety and hygiene standards, Singh said.
Workshops and training sessions are organised for the food handlers and vendors in Gurudwaras to sensitise them about the need for food safety regulations and health hygiene, he added.