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Case Study: A Foreign tourist or an Indian national, visiting India or within India on vacation with his/her family. He/She visited a popular Indian restaurant to have dinner with his/her family. However, the quality of the food served at that restaurant was poor and unhygienic. He/She is very unhappy and dissatisfied with the quality of the food served and want to know the procedure to seek redressal.
Currently, all major cities of India have come up with 24*7 eateries, but tourists still face problem finding the right food for themselves. Often due to the vast variation in taste and cuisine of the Indian food with the food of their home Country/State and being unaware about the visiting place, the tourist face issues while choosing the places to eat. The problem is similar to the ones Indians face when they visit a foreign country.
In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) looks after the concerned issues pertaining to food. It’s a statutory body which has the power to regulate, implement and punish any entity or individual at default. The guidelines related to hygiene and food standards are fairly high in India and all the restaurants and eateries are required to obtain the FSSAI approval for setting up.
However, there is always a chance of error on the part of a restaurant, while complying with the standards, and in such cases, there are following options to seek redressal:
- In the present case, the foreign tourist being a customer has availed service from an Indian restaurant. Commonly, if a restaurant fails to deliver quality food product or serves unhygienic food, a customer can directly file a complaint with the manager/head of that restaurant/club or café. Pursuant to receipt of any such complaint, the issues are sought and resolved by the managers/head themselves by tendering an apology, making the food free of cost or replacing the served food with a freshly cooked one. Since the ratings and reviews of the restaurants are highly important for restaurant’s business, management usually tries to do the best in order to serve the customer and solve any issue faced with respect to hygiene and food quality.
- In the case the issue is not resolved by the management of the restaurant or if the consumer gets ill, he/she can also file a complaint with the Local Health Authority of District or Commissioner of Food Safety of the State/ Union Territory, through multiple channels like Toll Free helpline number, Food Safety Voice helpline number, FSSAI mobile application, via email, WhatsApp/SMS, Facebook, Twitter or formal representation, reporting the issues concerning the quality of food served at the said restaurant. The concerned the authority shall further enquiry on the complaint and as a result of the default, the food license of the defaulting restaurant can also be suspended or/and it can be penalized.
Failing the above-mentioned remedies or not getting a required response, an aggrieved person can additionally file a consumer complaint at relevant Consumer Dispute Forum which has the power to award compensation to the aggrieved person.
Considering all the above-stated scenario, it is advisable to first try and resolve the matter by speaking to the management of the restaurant and addressing the problem faced. In most of the cases, the matter gets resolved in the first step itself. However, in case no solution is received at the restaurant, the aggrieved person may approach the local health authorities or consumer courts to seek redressal. Another point of caution to be kept in mind is to only visit those restaurants which are FSSAI approved and displaying Food Safety Display Boards (FSDBs), which helps a consumer to authenticate the appropriate standards pertaining to food is maintained by the owners at their respective premises to get the proper degree of protection.
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