Food poisoning: Kottayam hotel responsible for nurse's death served closure notice 2 months ago

Rashmi Raj
Reshmi Raj (left), Reshmi's mother Ambika (right) breaks down after hearing about her daughter's death. Photo: Manorama

Kottayam: Unsafe and stale food continue to be sold from eateries across Kerala despite umpteen safety and hygiene guidelines and much-publicised raids by the civic authorities and the Food Safety Department.

A young nurse lost her life on Monday after consuming kuzhimanthi and al-faham, two popular Arabian dishes, from an eatery on the outskirts of Kottayam town. This tragedy comes close on the heels of severe food poisoning cases, with several linked to shawarma, reported from across the State.   

The nurse Reshmi Raj had food from the same hotel that was served a closure notice two months ago after it was found functioning in unhygienic conditions during a raid conducted by the health wing of the Kottayam Municipality. 

With several other people too reporting food poisoning after having food from the hotel, the food safety actions of the authorities are coming under severe criticism. It’s been alleged from several quarters that the inspections at many places were superficial. How the hotel started functioning without adhering to safety practices should be a matter of probe, they demanded.

The authorities failed to carry out any significant inspection at hotels and restaurant chains during the Christmas-New Year festive period even though it was called for at the municipality council meeting.

Meanwhile, DYFI activists vandalised the hotel during a protest here on Tuesday. The protestors destroyed the CCTVs and the flower pots placed in front of the restaurant.

The hotel under scanner

Reshmi Raj (33), who was employed with the Kottayam Government Medical College Hospital, had food from the ‘Park’ Hotel located at Sankranthi on December 29. She started vomiting and suffered from loose motion an hour after having 'kuzhimanthi' and 'alfaham', two popular dishes.

She was admitted to Kottayam Medical College in a serious condition and died after three days despite the best efforts of doctors. The hospital authorities informed she died due to an infection in her internal organs.

Meanwhile, Athirampuzha native Jiju said he along with his wife and two children suffered from food poisoning after having the food ordered from Park hotel online, also on December 29.

Jiju, who is recuperating at a private hospital, said though he didn’t experience many health issues, his wife and children are yet to fully recover. Similarly, Nebu Cherian and his friend Shijo Mon, natives of Punnakuzhi, Aarppukkara, were hospitalized after having food from the hotel. He said he had kuzhimanthi and al-faham from the hotel while returning home after his daughter was discharged from the hospital following treatment for fever. His wife and daughter, though, didn’t take food then.

How to lodge complaints 

Anyone can lodge a complaint on suspected cases of food poisoning either to the Food Safety dDepartment or at the nearest police station. Even the health wing of local-self institutions will conduct a raid upon getting a complaint in this regard. During the raids at the hotels, these agencies will collect food samples and test the quality of the same before deciding on further action.

However, if a person is hospitalized after suffering from food poisoning, the hospital authorities too will inform the Food Safety Department and the police about the incident. 

Food Safety Assistant Commissioner C R Randeep said the department will normally recommend the suspension of licence upon finding the hotel operators guilty.

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