Food samples collected from an eatery at Cheruvathur in Kasaragod following the death of a girl due to food poisoning have revealed the presence of salmonella and shigella bacteria, Health Minister Veena George has said.
While salmonella was identified in the samples of shawarma, shigella was found in the pepper powder used at the outlet, the Minister said here on Saturday. The Minister said the samples were confirmed as `unsafe’ as per the Food Safety Act and further action would be taken against the eatery.
Meanwhile, food safety squads fanned out across the State on Saturday, inspecting 349 eateries and shops in the ongoing crackdown on unsafe food. Action was taken against 32 shops found functioning without licence or registration and 119 others were served notice to take corrective action. The officials seized 22 kg of meat found stored in unhygienic conditions and samples were sent for analysis.
An official press note issued here said 142 shops were closed down and 466 issued notice after 1,132 inspections were carried out over the last six days. A total of 162 kg of meat was seized and destroyed during the period.
The government had launched the campaign for food safety following the death of a 16- year-old girl due to acute food poisoning. More than 30 people, mostly schoolchildren, who had consumed shawarma from the same eatery, were hospitalised at the same time with symptoms of acute food poisoning. Stool samples collected from three children who were hospitalised had revealed the presence of shigella sonnei bacteria.
The fact that both shigella (usually found in water) and salmonella bacteria were detected in food samples indicates that contamination has happened at multiple levels. It also points to the lack of hygiene and careless handling of raw food in the kitchen.
Health officials pointed out that the mayonnaise served with shawarma could be the culprit in delivering salmonella poisoning which lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and severe dehydration.
In a simultaneous Statewide operation by the Food Safety department, 6,035 kg of stale and chemically contaminated fish were seized from various locations in the State over the last six days. On Saturday, officials seized 200 kg of stale fish brought from Tamil Nadu for sale In Kasaragod.
As part of the campaign for food safety, 200 kg of samples of jaggery suspected to be adulterated were also sent to laboratories for analysis and six persons were issued notice.
The Minister said the crackdown on unsafe food would continue.