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Ashwin Bhadri: We have already seen a 500 per cent jump in the number of enquiries relating to food safety

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Equinox Labs was formed with a vision of offering an end to end solution for customers with respect to Food, Water and Air Quality. Today it is a leading FSSAI Approved & NABL Accredited testing lab and a leading player in Food Safety Auditing and FoSTaC Training. In an exclusive interview with Express Food & Hospitality, Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs, speaks about food safety in the post Covid era and his company’s new offerings in this space

How will the importance of food safety amplify in the post Covid-19 landscape?

Food safety, general hygiene, and anything related to the same is going to be of utmost priority for consumers as well as businesses in the near future. We have already seen a 500 per cent jump in the number of enquiries coming in this space and are expecting more.

What will be the new normal for food safety in the HoReCa sector?

The HoReCa Sector will see basic things like physical distancing, maintaining impeccable personal and public hygiene, and temperature screening for the employees will undoubtedly be the new standard. You can expect to see various new ways in which the customers are going to be served.

There will also be a lot of innovation in packaging, service levels, and service protocols that will be designed specifically to ensure the safety of the customers.

Food, air, and water audits are still not mandatory in many industries in India, especially hospitality. What does the government need to do to resolve this? Is the existing testing infrastructure adequate for the country?

That’s a great question! There are norms in India that mandate food, water, and air testing, specially in the HoReCa segment. Every six months food businesses in the country are obligated to conduct a water test as per all the parameters under IS 10500. They are also supposed to conduct a monthly food testing, however the number of tests aren’t yet defined.

That being said, I think more than the government, now the consumers are going to be demanding better safety norms and certified testings. The government and the industry will follow soon.

Equinox does food auditing for corporates. Will corporate food audits see an increase in the post Covid-19 era?

Definitely! There’s going to be a spike in audits for corporate cafeterias as well as the vendors. I see this as a new emerging trend – a daily check and for which, Equinox Labs has launched a concept called Hygiene Quotient. The concept allows us to virtually conduct daily checks on the standard safety norms expected to be followed at a particular site, cafeteria or even at the vendor site.

Equinox’s new offerings to a post Covid world?

Equinox already has introduced a bunch of new services to help organisations function safely in the post Covid-19 world. To name a few – Virtual Audits, Daily Audits, Learning Management Systems are Equinox’s new offerings. A few more services should be expected to be launched soon.

What new business models is Equinox looking at? Future footprint for Equinox?

Equinox is looking at many new models, which will definitely include diving deeper into the training aspects and introducing new industry specific audits.

Current times have introduced us to areas we earlier didn’t have much exposure to. We have been invited to offer our services to these areas and help them improve their safety norms. We look forward to offering them equally focused services.

We also plan to introduce a bunch of new certifications, hoping to set new standards and benchmarks in the industry. Through these we also hope to communicate the efforts taken by the authorities to establish safety standards for the consumers.

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