Online food delivery platform FreshMenu, known for its focus on serving fresh and nutritious food, is in soup for maintaining an unclean kitchen.
The Bengaluru-based startup has been fined Rs 20,500 by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) after the civic body found that its kitchen in Bellandur had violated cleanliness norms.
The BBMP carried out an inspection at the kitchen for several hours on Saturday.
"The kitchen was unhygienic and we also found that they were not segregating waste," Mahesh Kumar, a food inspector with the BBMP, said.
Residents of the area have also alleged that company was dumping waste in a nearby drain.
In its response, FreshMenu has admitted that they did not have a proper waste segregation system in place in their Bellandur kitchen. It however also stated that they have been "unfairly singled out".
In a statement to TNM, the company said, "There has been a lot of noise in the media concerning an incident at one of our kitchens recently and while the rumours floating around are aplenty, we would like to address your concerns, directly. Bellandur has had several running issues with waste management and our drain line has a history of repeated clogging. We are one of the many businesses that make use of that drain and have been unfairly singled out. A lot of effort has been invested in fixing these issues in the past, but this time around, they were beyond our control. A single business in a building cannot be blamed for the clogging of a drain used by several other establishments."
"We will admit that the garbage segregation was not perfect in our kitchen and we have dealt very seriously with that negligence. We would also like to highlight that a part of the footage in the media coverage (on certain television channels) being purported as visuals from our kitchen – are not ours but from neighbouring establishments. We are confident about our hygiene standards and would welcome you to come and check our kitchens for yourself. Our kitchens have always maintained the expected standards of waste disposal practices and will continue to do so," it added. .
Started in 2014, FreshMenu has 35 cloud kitchens in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi NCR and plans to expand to 42 kitchens by early 2018.
It serves nearly 12,000 orders on a regular day and orders can increase to 14,000 on peak days.
In November this year, it was reported that FreshMenu's parent Foodvista India was set to receive investment from media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), which runs The Times of India and Economic Times.
In an interview earlier this year, explaining how their backend process works, founder and CEO Rashmi Daga said, "We have kitchens in the neighbourhood where we cook food in real time, package it and deliver it to the consumer. Under the hub and spoke model, there is one kitchen which supports all these kitchens but cooking takes place at kitchens which are nearer the delivery location so the customer gets food that is fresh and not reheated."