The standard of food served in Karnataka’s Indira Canteens has come into question once again after a BJP councillor alleged that the food was poisonous.
Umesh Shetty, the corporator from Govindarajanagar (Ward 104) in Bengaluru, got the food tested by sending samples to the Ramaiah Advanced Testing Laboratory and to the government-run Public Health Institute. He claimed the food was ‘poisonous’ after the results suggested that it contained high levels of bacteria.
The food samples were collected from the Indira Canteens at Byatarayanapura, JP Nagar, Jayanagar and Nagapura wards on 20 February. The lab report found that the bisibelebath was bacteria ridden and concluded that the sample was unfit for human consumption. The report also found that the microbiological quality of the sambar and rice samples was “not within satisfactory limits”. The report, however, did not find the presence of any other pathogenic organisms.
Indira Canteen is a food subsidisation programme run by the Karnataka government. It was initiated by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government and carried forward by the coalition government that came to power last year.
Speaking to TNM, Umesh Shetty said that he decided to test the food after receiving complaints about pourakarmikas suffering from stomach ache after consuming food from the canteens. “We heard about pourakarmikas suffering from stomach upset, diarrhoea due to eating Indira Canteen food and decided to get food samples tested,” he said.
Reacting to the report, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara ordered the BBMP to conduct further quality tests on food samples and take action on any erring contractors. The BBMP had recently conducted tests on food samples and not found any poisonous or pathogenic contents in the food. However, the samples will now be tested in 12 labs accredited by the National Accreditation Board and approved by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to clear up any confusion over the quality of the food samples.
While many have praised the setting up of Indira Canteens across the state to provide subsidised food, there have been previous occasions when the quality of the food and the administration of the canteens have been called into question by BJP leaders.