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Coronavirus scare: Chinese restaurants in Mumbai face heat from imported ingredients | Mumbai News


MUMBAI: “Are you using doubanjiang made in China (a spicy bean paste)?” A guest asked before placing an order for Hunan chicken in an East Asian restaurant at a luxury hotel in the city. The first-line order taker, without batting an eye, said no. Before the guest could ask a follow-up question, he said: “All the ingredients used in our dishes are made in India or brought from Singapore.”

The restaurant employee knew where the guest was going with the question. Since the outbreak of the novel’s deadly coronavirus, which originated in the Wuhan region of China, luxury restaurants serving Chinese food have received several questions about the source of its ingredients.

Some restaurateurs also say that people are avoiding Chinese cuisine, the most popular foreign food in India, for fear of becoming infected with the virus, which causes a disease similar to pneumonia.

Food importers have become cautious. “People have stopped their food shipments from China and are avoiding traveling there. It can have a long-term domino effect and prices may skyrocket in the near future, ”said Amit Lohani, founder and director of the Indian Food Importers Forum.

Some Chinese restaurants confirmed that they stopped making new orders for products made in China and began looking for alternative sources. “Many ingredients come from China. We buy them through distributors. But all supplies are approved by the food regulator. At this time, we do not foresee any problems, but there will be a shortage of supplies in the coming months. We will have to use alternatives whenever possible and we may have to make some dishes unavailable on the menus until supplies resume, “said chef Sharad Dewan, regional director of food production, The Park Hotels, which Manage 22 properties in the country.

However, Chinese restaurant chefs ruled out any shortages as they “generally have regulatory stocks and there would be no need to import in the immediate weeks.” “Anyway, most of our items come from Thailand and Hong Kong. But we are still consulting with suppliers and vendors so that there are no problems in the coming weeks, ”said Chef Yongliang Wong of Ano Tai, a Chinese restaurant at the Jaypee Vasant Continental hotel in New Delhi.

Some avoid the Chinese, admitted certain restaurateurs. “Due to the hype on media platforms, guests are limited to visiting Chinese restaurants,” Wong said.

But in another fine food store in a five-star hotel in Goa, everything worked as usual, as people lined up to try the chicken in spicy garlic sauce and crispy vegetables, said executive chef.

Anjan Chatterjee, president and managing director of specialized restaurants, echoed the opinion. “There has been no impact on business.” The specialized restaurants are owners of mainland China and Asia Kitchen of mainland China, the largest chain in this segment.

Chatterjee said: “In our restaurants, most products, for example, noodles, are made in India. Only 10% of the ingredients are imported, specifically the sauces. But those are also brought from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Kwong Cheong Thye and Lee Kum Kee, the brands we use, have manufacturing facilities in these regions. ”

A 2019 report from the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) noted that 27% of respondents rated the Chinese as their favorite cuisine after the meal in North India. India’s food service industry, estimated at Rs 4 lakh crore in fiscal year 2019, is expected to reach almost Rs 6 lakh crore in fiscal year 2023, NRAI said.

“Without risk of virus, as long as the food is well cooked”

The city’s executive health officer, Dr. Padmaja Keskar, said that as long as the food is cooked well and long enough, there can be no risk of infection. “The only problem is with fomites (objects such as clothing and utensils that could transmit infections),” he said.

Chinese food has become a topic of discussion due to the coronavirus. Indonesia plans to ban live animals and certain foods and beverages from China. Many countries, including the United Kingdom, report a drop in Chinese food sales. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment said that, given the virus transmission methods, infection of food exported from China is unlikely. Doctors said that the fact that WHO has not mentioned Chinese food indicates the low risk associated with it.

Times of India