Food samples from various Indira Canteen outlets across the city, sourced and sent by a BJP corporator to two labs, have been found unfit for human consumption. Umesh Shetty had sent food samples in to MS Ramaiah Advanced Testing Lab, which found E Coli and fungus in the samples.
In response, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has ordered a new, independent analysis of food samples from the kitchens that provide food to all 198 Indira Canteens in the city.
Though he maintained that there had been no reports of illness from consumers, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad has ordered the health department to collect samples of raw materials and cooked food from the kitchens where the food is prepared by contracting agencies.
The analysis of the food samples was done at Shetty’s behest, who then made the report public. A representative from MS Ramaiah Lab said that they tested and processed the samples as they were submitted, and had not collected the samples themselves.
Speaking to The Quint, Shetty said that the samples had been collected from key areas like from his own ward, JP Nagar (part of CM’s Kumaraswamy’s constituency), Aramane Nagar (under deputy CM Parameshwara’s constituency), Byataranyapura and Jayanagara, home turf of Bengaluru mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun.
‘Not Fit For Human Consumption’: Lab Report
Dr Kishore Shenoy from the MS Ramaiah Advanced Testing Lab said that the total count of E Coli and fungal growth in the food samples provided was “too numerous to count”.
"“The total bacterial count was too numerous too count. We tested for various parameters like fungal count, E coli, Salmonella, Shigella etc. The food samples were not fit for human consumption. E coli is contracted through raw materials before preparation and can also be transferred through the water used for cooking and washing. These can cause massive stomach disturbances and nausea.”" - Dr Kishore Shenoy
BBMP Casts Doubt on Collection Method
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said there was no way to be sure about the method of collection.
"“It was done in a personal capacity. Our health officers are always on the job. They could have done it in collaboration if there were such concerns,” he said." - Manjunath Prasad, Commissioner, BBMP
“Samples have been collected from all the kitchens supplying food, of both raw materials and cooked food. We have ordered the samples to be sent to FSSAI-NABL accredited labs for authenticity. The raw materials are supplied through Big Basket. The kitchen contractors are also required to submit periodic reports on sanitation. We too are confirming whether the samples are truly unfit,” he said.
‘Followed all Procedures in Sample Collection’: Shetty
BJP Corporator Umesh Shetty said that the samples had been collected last month following all the procedures pertaining to handling, storage and transportation.
"“Before we collected the samples, the team at MS Ramaiah lab told us exactly how to collect the samples and also provided boxes for the same. We also procured an ice box and ice pads to ensure it is maintained in the same condition it was collected in. Each step of the process has been recorded on video.”" - Umesh Shetty, BJP Corporator
He added that government department officials might not be wiling to cooperate fully as Indira Canteen is a government venture.
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