Food Safety

Who must be aware of the food hygiene and food safety requirements?

All food businesses, big or small, whether operating from a business premises, at home or from a mobile unit or food stall, must be aware of the legislations and requirements regarding food hygiene and food safety. Ultimately, you are primarily responsible for ensuring the safety of the food you produce. 

For the food safety licensing of my food business, where should I submit my application form?

The application forms can be submitted either to the BAFRA district offices or to the Head Office. 

What are the requirements for food safety licensing of my food business?

The requirements are as laid out in the application form for the Licensing Process – Food Safety Licensing of Food Businesses (available for download). 

Against which criteria/requirement are the food businesses licensed for the Food Safety Licensing?

Food business operations are licensed against the Criteria for Good Hygienic and Manufacturing Practices for Licensing of Food Business of BAFRA. 

Are temporary vendors and street vendors retailing food required to be licensed as per Food Safety Licensing of Food Businesses?

No, the Food Safety Licensing does not apply to temporary vendors and street vendors. However, they must operate in compliance to the following standard requirements: Minimum standards for establishment and operation of temporary food stalls & Minimum standard requirement for street food vendors. 

Who must attend Food Handlers’ Training?

Food Handlers’ Training must be attended by all individuals who supervise and/or handle food or food contact surfaces. Food Handler is defined as a person who manufactures, processes, prepares, serves, delivers, transports or packages food in food establishments. 

Who provides Food Handlers’ Training and where?

BAFRA conducts the Food Handlers’ Training, free of charge, for all people who supervise and/or handle food or food contact surfaces. The trainings are uniformly provided throughout 20 Dzongkhags at BAFRA field offices by food safety officials of BAFRA. Upon successful completion of the training a food handler is issued with a Food Handlers’ License.

Question: What is the validity period of the Food Handlers License?

Answer: Food Handlers’ License is valid for five years. 

How can I renew my expired Food Handlers License?

The food handler has to undergo Refreshers’ Training after five years and successfully complete it for the renewal of the food handlers’ license. 

What are required to undergo the Food Handlers Training or Refreshers’ Training?

The following are required to be submitted during the training day:

  • Valid medical certificate (Form C of the occupational Health)
  • CID copy
  • 100 (nominal card printing cost) 

What is the procedure to export locally processed food products?

Exporters wishing to export the locally processed products of Bhutan may approach the nearest BAFRA field office for export certificate. The export certificate would be issued against the batches of product intended for export after testing against the safety standards of Bhutan. The exporters are required to apply for the certificate atleast 2 weeks prior to the export of the consignment.

 “FOOD SAFETY IN THE TIMES OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC”

Should food handlers with flu-like symptoms be allowed to work in food establishments?  

No. Food Handlers who are unwell or have flu like symptoms should be encouraged to self-declare their symptoms and not be allowed to enter the food Establishments. They should not return to work until deemed fit for work by a medical doctor. 

Can wearing gloves by food handler’s substitute for hand washing?  

No. Disposable gloves can give a false sense of safety/security and should not be used in the food work environment as a substitute for hand washing. Proper hand hygiene protocols as recommend by MoH and WHO should be followed as it offers greater protective barrier against infection even if wearing disposable gloves is essential while handling food.

Should all food handlers wear face masks?

Irrespective of the COVID 19 outbreak in the country, protective clothing such as head gear, face mask, aprons are widely adopted practices in food manufacturing establishments and abattoirs. However with respect to use of mask outside the food manufacturing premises, relevant guidance issued by the Ministry of Health should be followed.  

Can hand sanitizers substitute for hand washing?

No. Hand sanitizers should be used as an additional measure for safety but should not replace hand washing. 

What specific precautions do food handlers need to take during COVID19 situations?

 Physical distancing, good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing, and application of general food hygiene measures are the most important precautions food handlers should adopt.  

When buying ready to eat food from the market what must a consumer check for?

The consumers must read the labels of the food (where applicable) and also check if the vendors are practicing the WHO five keys to safer food:

  1. Keep food lean
  2. Separate Raw and Cooked food
  3. Cook food thoroughly (>70°C)
  4. Keep food at safe temperature (i.e. hot food hot and cold food cold)
  5. Use safe water and raw materials 

What should a consumer do after buying food from Markets?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before handling food
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables with clean water (Not soap) before eating them.
  • Refrigerate perishable food as soon as possible (preferably below 5°C).
  • Cook food thoroughly (>70°C) especially meat, poultry, eggs and sea food. 

As a food vendor how can one keep yourself and your customers safe?

  • Practice good personnel hygiene
  • Maintain Physical distance (at least 1 meter)
  • Wash and Sanitize all food contact surfaces 

Is food/grocery delivery safe?

Yes, if the supplier follows good personnel and food hygiene practices and also maintains physical distance. After accepting food/grocery deliveries, hands should be washed with soap and water. 

Is it necessary to disinfect surfaces of food packaging?

It is not necessary to disinfect food packaging materials, but hands should be properly washed after handling food packages and before eating.    

What is the best disinfectant for common household surfaces?

Regular household cleaning and disinfection products will effectively eliminate the virus from household surfaces.  For cleaning and disinfecting households with suspected or confirmed  COVID-19 illnesses – surface virucidal disinfectants, such as 0.05% sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and products based on ethanol (at least 70%) should be used. 

Can I get COVID-19 from food?

There is currently no evidence that people can catch COVID-19 from food or food packages.  

Could the COVID-19 virus be transmitted from food of animal origin to humans or vice versa?

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that food of animal origin could be a possible route for transmission of COVID-19 to humans or that food of animal origin can become infected by humans.  

Can the COVID 19 virus live on the surface of foods (including fruit and vegetables, frozen foods, pre-packaged foods)?                          

COVID 19 cannot multiply in food, they need a live animal or human host to multiply and survive. However, some research suggests that the environmental stability of Covid-19 virus is up to three hours in the air post-aerosolisation, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

(These findings resulted from experiments in a controlled environment and should be interpreted with caution in the real-life environment).