Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One dies of food poisoning; stale food racket busted

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The food poisoning episode that had led to the closure of two leading restaurants in the city claimed its first victim. Sachin Roy Mathew (21) a hotel management student, died in Bangalore as a result of food poisoning. 

Sachin, who is a native of Veeyapuram near Haripad, was staying in a hotel room near Kalasipayalam following severe fever and vomiting since July 11. It is learnt that he breathed his last two days ago and the relatives identified the body on Monday. Sachin is the son of Roy Mathew and Sucy Roy of Attumalil Velpadam house. His body was taken to Haripad on Monday night. 

According to Sachin's relatives, he bought shawarma from Salwa Cafe, Vazhuthacaud, on July 10 evening and boarded a bus to Bangalore. On the way, he ate the shawarma. He telephoned his home and told that he was unwell that night itself. 

The incident would provide the food safety commissionerate an opportunity to reign in the unhygienic food joints in the state. The food safety commissioner who has registered the first case in Kerala under the Food Safety Act against a shawarma joint in the city for selling stale food can now evoke stringent clauses in the act as it has claimed a life. 

It was following the incident of about 20 customers who had food from the Salva Cafe near Vazhuthacadu were hospitalized due to food poisoning on July 10. The food safety commissionerate, which was notified about this on July 12, conducted an inspection and shut down the joint immediately. Its sister concern, Salwa Dine at Vellayamablam, was also ordered to shut down. 

Food safety commissioner Biju Prabhakar told TOI that investigations revealed the presence of a racket which involves in the collection and recycling of stale food. 

"The modus operandi is simple. The racket contacts the restaurants engaged in the sale of shawarma and collect the left over. After refrigerating it they mix it with fresh meat. A customer who orders the dish receives a part of the stale meat which could cause food poisoning. The culprits have been identified and stringent action would be taken. That could include imprisonment and fine up to Rs 10 lakh," said Prabhakar. While pointing out that it was the first case registered under the Act, the commissioner emphasized that Kerala would be cleansed of all such irregularities in the next three months. 

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