The sick and unfit will have to pass medical tests under a new order passed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
The FSSAI issued a circular last week under which asked food manufacturing companies to ensure that employees who come under direct contact with food must demonstrate fitness for work.
The order asks manufacturers to ensure that these food-handlers, regardless of the safety precautions they take at work, undergo a mandatory medical examination for ratifying their physical fitness in order to pursue their trade.
On clearing the medical fitness test with a registered medical practitioner, the food handler gains a medical fitness certificate from the practitioner, as well as the local representative of the FSSAI.
A FSSAI spokesperson told FoodNavigator-Asia that the fitness test is mandatory and food handlers would have to undergo an eye test, skin examination, and physical check.
“Food handlers would also have to be vaccinated against an enteric group of diseases as per a schedule defined by the medical practitioners, failing to adhere to which no fitness certificate would be issued,” he said.
The changes were first flagged in the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, under which the FSSAI became the apex authority in August last year.
“This was always in the works. The test has to be taken once a year for all food handlers in the manufacturing and the food service industry. We need to ensure that such tradesmen are free from any infectious, or other diseases,” he said.
The move is expected to create a small road bump for food manufacturers in India, who have been suffering from a skilled labour shortage in recent years.
Some see it as an unnecessary annual bureaucratic hurdle to rectifying this problem.