The BHOG (Blissful Hygienic Offering to God) project which mandates food safety licence to Prasadams and Annadanams (free food serving) and Nercha Vilambu (pooja offering) in temples, will be made mandatory in Kerala from March 1.
The project launched in 2017, is executed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the State commissioner has submitted letters to Collectors of different districts to hold discussions with authorities of temples.
The Food Safety department will train people who prepare food in temples and who sell edible items near temple premises. Prasadam vendors will have to obtain licences for serving it, after completing the mandatory registration process.
So far, three states - Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already implemented the project. In Kerala, the food safety department will hold discussions with the Guruvayoor Devaswom, Travancore Devaswom Board, Kochi Devaswom Board and Malabar Devaswom board regarding implementation of the project.
Apart from this, the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram has also taken the licence. Food safety norms under the FSSAI guidelines have been incorporated during the Attukal Pongala festival, set to take place in February.
According to reports, the Guruvayoor Devaswom Board has also taken safety licence to implement the project.
As per the guidelines of FSSAI, temple prasadams offered by Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the state government will have expiry dates printed on the containers to indicate for how long they can be consumed safely.
In Tamil Nadu, the Dhandayuthapani temple in Palani was the first to offer prasadams with expiry dates to devotees.
As many as 300 food handlers from 20 big temples in Tamil Nadu were trained at a workshop on food safety and hygiene, as part of the BHOG project in New Delhi in 2018.