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Oil and colour spoilt biryani

Calcutta, Sept. 15: The number of people who took ill after eating biryani served at a blood donation camp on the fringes of the city went up to 252 today.

Nabajagaran Sangha of Dum Dum had given biryani packets to donors. Many of them had taken these home. Two hundred people reported sick last night and had to be admitted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Beleghata.

Today, 52 more people were hospitalised with symptoms of food poisoning — vomiting, loose motion and frothing at the mouth.

Four persons, including two owners of the eatery that supplied the biryani to the club, were arrested today.

Preliminary investigations by police and the health department revealed that the eatery had used adulterated oil and non-permitted synthetic colours, which led to the food poisoning.

The government sought a detailed report on the incident from the district administration as it came close on the heels of a similar case in which about 200 children took ill after eating the mid-day meal provided by their school in Purulia.

“Charges of attempt to murder and food adulteration have been framed against those arrested,” said Sudip Roy, the officer in charge of Dum Dum.

Chairman of Dum Dum municipality Dipak Bhattacharya said most blood donors had taken the packets home and may have shared the biryani with family members. “Thus the large number of victims.”

Club members pleaded with the police that they were not to be blamed as they had not cooked the biryani.

The neighbourhood wore a deserted look today with the fear of a gastro-enteritis outbreak looming. Several residents said they are leaving the locality for the time being.

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