October 15, 2019
Food safety officers (FSO) raided numerous food stalls in Karumbukadai (wards 75 to 86), Coimbatore, following complaints by residents about the unhygienic conditions in which food is being prepared in these eateries.
The FSO, who didn’t want to be named, told The Covai Post, “Action has been taken based on our senior officer’s directive. We have seized 1.5 kg of plastic bags and about 3.5 kg of rotten vegetables and destroyed them. We have also advised the shop owners to maintain a hygienic environment and prepare food with fresh ingredients and spices, use no plastic bags and do regular fumigation of premises to prevent rodent infestation.”
M Abdul Hakkim, a social activist and public relations secretary of welfare organisation Jamaat e Islami Hind in Karumbukadai told The Covai Post, “There are many hotels, eateries besides chicken and mutton shops in this area who serve mainly daily wage workers. Every day while returning from work, many people buy parottas, grilled and fried chicken, fried rice and other eatables from these shops for their dinner. So there is good business during those hours. However, the food items are prepared with reheated oils, harmful colouring agents and food additives like ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate) and adulterated spices. Many shops claim to put pepper on omelettes and fried food for extra ‘taste’ but it is adulterated. Also these shops are using plastic bags for packing and sales despite a strict government ban. Although food inspectors visit, they have investigated only the 25 shops we complained against and warned. There are many more shops in interior Karumbukadai preparing such food.”
He pointed out that besides dengue and other air-borne diseases from the drains clogged with plastic waste from the shops, their adulterated preparations could cause fatal diseases like cancer, asthma and others. The clogged drains have also caused drainage problems at Saramedu Road, he said.
Hakkim adds, “I feel it is a two-way street, either the shop owners are unaware of the duplicate ingredients or the public is too gullible. So we want to work with the FSO and FSSAI departments and local NGOs to create awareness about the harm of serving contaminated food in the area. We have requested permission for this. Our aim is not to close down these shops but to improve their hygiene.”
Karumbukadai has around 70,000 families of mostly minority communities. Hakkim along with other NGOs are also working to set up a bank in the area, begin road repairs that have been damaged after Ukkadam bridge project started six months ago, and look into other civic issues.