Vegetarians eating at a Restaurant serving both Veg & Non-Veg food

Posted by fshsfhsfh on Thursday, April 26, 2012

I saw a news article in the Times of India - "McDonald's goofs up on veg order". The article is quite dramatic and ends with a BBMP (equivalent to the Corporation of Bangalore) diktat - Restaurants must have separate kitchens for Veg and Non Veg food. 

The BBMP diktat is highly amusing - I can bet that all restaurants (there may be a handful of exceptions I may be unaware of) including those within the 5 star hotels do not have a separate Veg and Non-Veg kitchen. They may have carved out a small section , a small area, but it will essentially be one kitchen area and one washing area. If this is the case, and you are a strict vegetarian, what should you do? My recommendation: Visit only Pure Veg restaurants. 

Why do I say this?
  • The staff in the restaurant are generally careful about Veg orders and in 99.9% of the cases you will not see any non-vegetarian food mixed with the Vegetarian food. But like in every process, there will be a rare occurrence that a piece may get mixed. The McDonald's issue above is clearly an exception - infact they are pretty good in separating Veg and Non Veg food and take extensive care that such incidents do not happen. It was simply a case of one of the employees have a momentary lapse in attention.  
The bigger problem is with what you don't see:
  • Soups: Most restaurants prepare soup using Stock. Stock is essentially water in a pot that is on sim (i.e. getting heated slowly), with veggies and flavour enhancing pieces (e.g. Bones). In most cases, the restaurant will have one stock pot and it will of course have the bones in them. So when a soup is prepared, the same stock water is used. 
  • Entrees: All entrees are prepared upon order. The cooks have a few sauce-pans in which they prepare the dishes. In a busy restaurant, the same sauce-pan gets used for preparing veg and non veg dishes. If you are expecting the cooks to be so careful as to use different utensils during busy hours, suit yourself. Having said this, most good cooks atleast wash the sauce-pan a little before preparing a new dish. Even if they use different sauce-pans, the ladles etc. are the same. Again, expecting them to wash each time is impractical. Check where the closest washing area for the cook is and you will know why washing the ladles, sauce-pans and utensils after each order is virtually impossible. 
  • Frying: When you order fried dishes, most restaurants, use a "Kadai" that has hot oil on boil to fry the specific dish. In most restaurants, the same Kadai of Oil is used to fry everything - from French Fries to Paneer Pakodas to Chicken Wings. So you are not served non-veg pieces, but your dish is fried in the same oil.
  • Handling of Food: Most cooks use their hands (in some cases with disposable gloves) to handle food. Do you believe they will have the time and luxury to wash their hands or change the gloves everytime they prepare a new order? So even if they wear gloves, the same gloves which picked up a chicken piece for the previous order, picks up the Paneer piece for your order. 
  • Cutting boards and knives: All orders which require cutting fresh veggies and meat (salads for instance) are done in the same area. While the cutting board is probably wiped with a cloth and even the knife may be cleaned with a cloth, they are not really washed for every new order. So the same cutting board and knife used to cut boneless chicken pieces for a curry are the same ones used to chop the cauliflower for your order. 
  • Washing: Find me a restaurant which has separate washing areas for Veg and Non Veg food - I would say it does not exist. So all the plates (different colours or now), spoons, forks, bowls etc. are cleaned in the same area. The same area is also used for cleaning all the utensils used to prepare the food. 
In summary, if you are extremely finicky about Veg and Non Veg food, simply go only to restaurants which serve pure veg food. If you go to restaurants serving both Veg & Non-Veg food, be assured that the staff will in 99.9% of the cases ensure that you do not have any non-veg food/pieces in your order, but all the back-office kitchen activities that happen as described above - you really don't have a work-around. 

The Article below talking about the McDonalds goof-up was published in the Times of India, Bangalore, Friday, April 27

McDonald’s goofs up on veg orderBBMP Penalizes Eatery After Family Served Chicken BurgersTIMES NEWS NETWORK 

Bangalore:A global restaurant chain’s outlet on New BEL Road, near MS Ramaiah College, has been slapped a fine of Rs 15,000 and shut down for a day and a half after it allegedly served non-vegetarian food to a family that had ordered vegetarian fare. 
Vikram, 45, businessman and resident of New BEL Road, and three of his family had gone to the McDonald’s food joint on Tuesday. The family, strictly vegetarian in food habits, ordered for four veg burgers, paid Rs 246 towards the bill and were served the food. But after eating the burgers, the family 
suspected that something was amiss and that they mighthavebeen suppliedwith non-vegetarian burgers. 
Vikram went to the supplier at the counter, who admitted that he had by mistake served the family chicken burgers.Thebusinessman insistedthat he be allowed to record his complaint in a complaint register. The staff failed to produce a complaint register. He immediately called up the BBMP control room and was asked to give a written compliant to the zonal medical officer. 
Dr Devaki Umesh, medical officer, BBMP west zone, said Vikram complained to her about the incident. “We are a vegetarian family and had performed Lakshmi Pooja on theoccasion of Akshaya Tritiya on Tuesday. But due to no fault of ours we were cheated into eating chicken burgers. This has hurt our religious sentiments,” she quoted Vikram as telling her. 
BBMP personnel swooped on the restaurant on Wednesday. “We found out that there were problems with the serving of veg and non-veg food from the same area. We have asked the restaurant to have separate kitchens for veg and nonveg food and also supply them in trays of different colours. A fine of Rs 15,000 was levied on the restaurant. We have locked the restaurant and the keys are with us. We will inspect the restaurant again on Friday for compliance,” she said. 
The restaurant remained closed on Thursday too. When contacted, a restaurant employee only admitted that the BBMP had inspected their premises. “We closed down because of technical issues,” the employee, who did not want to beidentified, said. 
A McDonald spokesperson said she had no details of the incident but claimed that the outlet was operational on Thursday. 
Restaurants to be checked BBMP will now inspect premier restaurants in the city. “We will pay surprise visits to restaurants and see if everything is in order,” said Dr Devaki Umesh. 
BBMP DIKTAT: Restaurants must have separate kitchens for veg and non-veg food

{ 5 comments... read them below or add one }

albert george said...
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domina said...

i agree that it is little embarrassing for the vegetarians to have their food in the restaurants which serves both..And the best option is they can go for the pure veg one..

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