Food poisoning: 429 eateries checked, 43 closed day after nurse’s death in Kottayam
Of the 429 shops inspected on the day, 43 were asked to down shutters — 22 for operating in unhygienic conditions and 21 for not having a food licence.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a knee-jerk reaction a day after the death of a young nurse in Kottayam due to suspected food poisoning, the food safety department raided over 400 eateries across the state on Tuesday.
Thiruvananthapuram native Rasmi Raj, 33, who worked in Kottayam Medical College Hospital, died on Monday due to alleged food poisoning. She had consumed a chicken dish from a restaurant in Samkranthy in Kottayam on December 29 and was hospitalised the following day. DYFI activists protesting the nurse’s death vandalised the eatery on Tuesday.
Of the 429 shops inspected on the day, 43 were asked to down shutters — 22 for operating in unhygienic conditions and 21 for not having a food licence. The officials served notices on 138 shops for not maintaining basic standards. Samples from 44 shops were collected for further testing.
Health Minister Veena George said the stringent inspections will continue. “The food safety department had conducted ‘Operation Holiday’, a special drive, during the holidays. Fresh directions were issued to conduct inspections when cases were reported after the holidays,” she said. She said strict action will be taken against shop owners operating without licence or registration.
“Shops, even licensed ones, that serve food in unhygienic conditions will face action. Serving expired or adulterated food is a criminal offence,” she said, adding that once an eatery’s licence is cancelled, its renewal is difficult.
The minister also called for proper intervention by food handlers, shop owners and distributors as the issue concerns the health and life of the people.
Over 5,800 food joints inspected
The food safety department had inspected 5,864 eateries during the special drive in nearly a week between Christmas and New Year. Of the shops, 26 were asked to cease operations. As many as 802 shops were served notices, for improving standards. Besides, 337 statutory samples and 540 surveillance samples were collected during the drive.
The food safety department is planning to start a website where the public can submit their complaints related to bad food. The portal will have the option of uploading pictures and video along with the complaint.