Food safety authorities have launched widespread raids across all districts in the State after a youth died and several persons fell ill following a food-borne illness they are believed to have contracted from an eatery, Salwa Café, in the capital city last week.
By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, they inspected 187 hotels and locked out six, four in Thiruvananthapuram and one each in Kozhikode and Kannur. As many as 90 hotels have been served improvement notice.
The Food Safety Commissioner issued orders that raids be conducted in all eateries in the State to ensure food safety and hygiene in the interest of public health. Squads have been formed in every district to conduct raids.
On July 10, at least 10 persons who ate shawarma (a dish of Arabic origin, with thin slices of meat and a sauce spread, wrapped in a flat bread) from the eatery at Vazhuthacaud were taken ill a few hours after they consumed the food and were hospitalised. However, food safety officials were informed of the incident only on July 12.
It later transpired that Sachin Mathew Roy (21), a student of Hotel Management in Bangalore and a native of Veeyapuram near Mavelikara, who had been visiting relatives in the city, had reportedly bought three rolls of shawarma from the same eatery, while on his way back by bus to Bangalore. He had called his mother to inform her that he was unwell but the family could not contact him again.
He was found dead by the police on July 14 at a lodge in Bangalore. (According to an Alappuzha report, the body of Sachin was buried at the Veeyapuram St. George Orthodox church at Erathodu on Tuesday afternoon.)
Food safety officials said that though they immediately sealed the eatery and its sister concern in another part of the city, they were unable to get any samples of the incriminating food item. They also found that the eatery had been functioning without licence or other necessary documents
“We are however building a strong prosecution case on the basis of the statements from those who had taken ill as well as the doctors who treated them. Unsafe food resulting in death can earn the person running the food business imprisonment for life and up to Rs.10 lakh as fine under Sections 59 and 65 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006,” Anilkumar, Joint Commissioner of Food Safety, said.
Mr. Anilkumar is on his way to Bangalore to collect the medical records of Sachin which can be used as evidence to build up the case.
The police have registered a case of administering poison with the intention to cause hurt under Section 328 of the Indian Penal Code against the owner and employees of the eatery. This is the first case in the State under the Act.
He said that action would be taken against those food businesses found to be operating without a licence or registration and those found selling unclean or unsafe food will have to pay the penalty as well as other legal measures specified under the Act.
News from The Hindu Daily.
By Chef Rajesh Abraham.
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