Kerala high court issues notice to state over Kasargod food poisoning case
The Kerala high court on Wednesday took suo motu cognisance of a food poisoning incident in northern Kerala in which a 16-year-old girl died and over 50 people hospitalised after consuming “shawarma” - an Arabic dish.
The court took up the case after media reports threw enough lights on appalling condition of some shawarma-making joints in the state. The court later sent notices to the state food safety commissioner, health director and other officials.
The state government informed the court that it took strong action against the shop and arrested three employees and issued a lookout notice against the owner of the Ideal Cool Bar in Cheruvathur in Kasaragod district. At least 58 persons were admitted to various hospitals after taking shawarma on April 30. Devanandana died on Monday while she was undergoing treatment at the district hospital in Kanhangad.
District medical officer Dr AV Ramdas later said shigella bacterial infection resulted in the death of Devanandana. Doctors said shigella infection can be fatal if not treated properly and it affects brain and other organs if infection was not contained properly. They said major source of infection is stale meat and eggs. Egg white is used to make mayonnaise that is used to top up the shawarma roll.
After the incident many shawarma stalls were raided.
In Kerala, usually shawarma stalls are set up as an extension of eating joints and they will be exposed to attract customers. Earlier also many cases of food poisoning related to the Arabic dish were reported from the state.
During the raids, it was found that many mix rotten meat with fresh one and since the burner works at 300 degree C it will be difficult to notice taste difference, said food safety officials. During rush hours many serve half-cooked meat and it is dangerous, they said.
Health minister Veena George said the food safety commissioner will issue a safety guideline for shawarma stalls and all will have to go by this to avert such incidents. In the state-wide raids, authorities sealed 22 eateries and seized over 200 kg stale meat and mayonnaise, officials said.