The minister’s statement came days after three students were admitted to a hospital in Thanjavur due to food poisoning after eating shawarma.

File photo of Ma Subramanian
news Health Monday, May 09, 2022 - 19:16

Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian on Monday, May 9, urged people not to eat shawarma, dubbing it a ‘western’ food that is suited better for a different climate. “We are requesting people not to go after food like shawarma and other items with fancy names, we already have many good food items in our country,” he said. The minister’s statement came days after three students of the Veterinary College and Research Institute at Orathanadu in Thanjavur, who consumed shawarma, were admitted to Thanjavur Medical College Hospital for treatment due to food poisoning. Shawarma is a dish of Arabic origin where thinly sliced pieces of marinated meat are rolled into a flat bread.

“Shawarma is a western food. It won't get spoiled there, since in those countries, the temperature may go below zero. But without proper freezing technology, it will get spoiled. Eating these spoiled foods will lead to severe health problems,” he told reporters.

“In our climatic conditions, vendors sell shawarma since the food is popular among the youth. But, we don't have proper freezing and storing facilities. The number of shawarma shops increased without such facilities in India. None consider whether the food is suitable for our climate and none are bothered about the processing facilities too. All of them are selling such foods with a business mindset,” he added.

He said that after a few incidents of food poisoning were reported, the food safety department has started inspecting shops across the state as per directions from Chief Minister MK Stalin. “We have asked officials to inspect whether the shops have proper freezing and storage facilities and to make sure no leftovers are used the next day without proper storage. More than 1,000 shops were checked and fined since they didn't have storage facilities. The inspection will continue in the coming days,” the minister said.

Close on the heels of neighbouring Kerala ordering raids in eateries across the state following the death of a 16-year-old girl in Kasaragod district after eating shawarma, the Tamil Nadu Food Safety Department had also commenced similar raids across the state last week.

Earlier this week, the Food Safety Department officials carried out raids in more than 1,000 restaurants, mostly those serving non-vegetarian fare, in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchi, Tiruppur, Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu, Kanniyakumari, and other districts of the state, and seized stale meat including shawarma and other cooked meat products.

As far as the Kerala case was concerned, the state health department said that pathogenic salmonella and shigella were detected in the shawarma samples collected from the eatery in Kerala's Kasaragod district where around 58 people fell ill and a young girl died after consuming the dish on May 1.

Read: Kerala shawarma food poisoning case: Deadly shigella the cause, says DMO

With IANS and PTI inputs

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