FDA order will help eradicate illegal bakeries: bakers’ body

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Panaji: A day after the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) asked the bread (pao) sellers (poders) in the state to get themselves registered  with the FDA and display the registration details on their bicycles, All Goa Bakers and Confectionary Association (AGBCA), the local bakers’ body, welcomed the order.

Speaking to ‘The Navhind Times’ on Tuesday, Peter Fernandes, president of AGBCA, said that the order will help to eradicate illegal bakeries.

“There are so many bakeries, started by people in unhygienic conditions, in small houses and small rooms. These bakeries operate illegally and give competition to the legal bakers,” said Fernandes.

He added that most of the illegal bakers hire temporary workers, who work in industrial estates or as security guards during the night time and arrive for work at the bakeries in the morning.

“The workers come directly from work to the bakers without bath or change of clothes and collect the ‘pao’ and hit the road on the cycle. The FDA order will help genuine bakers and ensure hygienic delivery of bread to residents,” said Fernandes. He added that fixing a display board on the cycle is not likely to pose any problem to the ‘poder’. The AGBCA president said that this is the second time the FDA has come out with the same order for bakers in the state.

“The order was actually announced two years ago,” said Fernandes.  He said the bakers’ association had persuaded around 100 ‘poders’ to carry a display board on their cycles. “The ‘poders’ did this for some time, but after they were teased by other ‘poders’, they stopped,” disclosed Fernandes.

The state has over 600 bakers of which around 50 per cent are unlicensed and around 300 bakers are members of the AGBCA.

“Most of the bakers, who are a part of the association, are registered with FDA, but there are also some, who are not,” said Fernandes.

The bakers’ association has been requesting the state government for a single-window facility for licensing. “Local bakers, when they want to open a new unit, are asked by the FDA to keep two-three rooms (for different functions), while outside bakers are given the FDA nod even when they operate out of a 5×3 sq mt premises,” alleged Goan bakers.

They said that most outsiders operate several bakeries under one licence, while genuine Goan bakers end up seeking a fresh licence every time they want to expand.

According to the AGBCA, the COVID pandemic has hit their business badly, as residents are afraid to buy ‘pao’ from ‘poders’.

As per the FDA order, issued on August 17, all ‘poders’ in the state delivering ‘pao’ to residents must keep a display board on their cycles with details of name of bakery, FSSAI registration number, contact number etc under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

The order also states that traditional bakeries must obtain registration certificate from the FDA under the FSSAI Act and conform to the sanitary and hygienic norms stipulated under schedule 4 of the FSSAI Act. 

“Bakers are not opposing registration with the FDA but the hurdles they face in obtaining the same need to be addressed,” said Fernandes.