Chennai: In response to a tragic incident involving the death of a 14-year-old girl and the hospitalization of around 40 people due to suspected food poisoning in Namakkal district, Tamil Nadu government has initiated a sweeping food safety campaign.
The incident was linked to the consumption of chicken shawarma from a local eatery.
Health Minister Ma Subramanian swiftly directed food safety officials to conduct comprehensive inspections at restaurants across the state. This directive followed the unfortunate event where the young girl and her family fell ill after consuming non-vegetarian food from a local restaurant. Tragically, the girl passed away the following day, and 13 medical students also experienced food poisoning after dining at the same establishment.
Authorities promptly raided the restaurant, collected food samples, and detained three individuals. A food safety team traced the source of chicken used in various dishes, including grilled chicken, tandoori chicken, and shawarma. An ongoing investigation is underway to pinpoint the exact cause of the food poisoning.
The Health Minister emphasized the importance of ensuring restaurants adhere to food safety guidelines, enhance public awareness, and serve high-quality food. Restaurants found serving substandard food will face fines, license revocation, or premises closure based on the severity of the violations.
From April to August, the food safety department conducted 38,191 inspections statewide, with 1,478 in Namakkal district alone. Over this period, 7,825 food samples were collected, along with 27,151 surveillance samples. A total of 1,894 cases resulted in fines amounting to ₹1.55 crore, with Namakkal accounting for 66 cases and ₹5.79 lakh in fines.
In August, food safety officials intensified inspections of easily perishable items like shawarma, resulting in the seizure and destruction of 280 kg of spoiled food. Lab reports for samples from the Namakkal restaurant are expected soon.
To ensure food safety, 10 surveillance teams have been deployed in Namakkal district, inspecting 299 hotels and issuing notices to 10 establishments for unhygienic conditions. In Salem and Erode districts, food safety inspections also uncovered issues. In Salem, 20 out of 33 inspected hotels had unhygienic food items, leading to the disposal of 182 kg of chicken, 17 kg of stored rice, 18 kg of banned plastics, and 2 kg of shawarma. In Erode, 34 kg of chicken were seized, and notices were issued to eight hotels with a ₹2,000 fine each.
Simultaneously, a separate food safety campaign targeted spoiled meat. During surveys of 1,187 restaurants across Tamil Nadu, authorities discovered and destroyed a staggering 1,024.75 kg of spoiled meat. Additionally, ₹1.61 lakhs in fines were imposed on 115 restaurants found in possession of spoiled meat.
These concerted efforts underscore Tamil Nadu’s commitment to safeguarding public health and enforcing rigorous food safety standards, ensuring safe and high-quality dining experiences for its residents. write a one line bold head line .