| Residents enjoy phuchkas at Mauryalok on Sunday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Gorging on your favourite roll or tucking into phuchkas could be a dangerous proposition this Puja in the absence of proper checks to detect adulterated food.
On Sunday, when The Telegraph asked Ashish Kumar, designated officer, food authority wing of the health department, about the steps being taken to check adulterated food items on sale during Durga Puja, he first tried to ignore the question. On further prodding, he said his department would soon start a massive drive to collect samples from various eateries soon.
“Though we collect food samples from eateries across the city on a regular basis, we are thinking of starting a drive on a massive scale in a day or two,” said Kumar.
“The food authority wing conducts random inspections on roadside eateries a few days before any festival to check adulteration in food items. However, this year, the department is yet to start the drive. Even if it starts collecting samples in a day or two, it won’t be helpful as the department depends on the Mineral Area Development Authority laboratory in Dhanbad, which sends reports very late. Navratra has begun. Even if the samples are sent to the lab now, the reports would come after 15-20 days, by which time the festival would be over,” said a source.
Residents, naturally, are unhappy over the food authority wing’s inability to check adulterated items. Patna High Court advocate Raj Kumar Mishra, who lives in the Boring Road area, said: “On August 15 last year, the security guard at my apartment fell ill after consuming jalebis from a nearby shop. He vomited several times and we had to rush him to a doctor the same night. The doctor said it was a case of serious food poisoning. He died the next morning.”
Youngsters, for whom these stalls are a huge draw, too, are upset over the government not being able to check adulterated food. “I can’t resist eating phuchkas from roadside stalls though I know it could be harmful. The state government should check the quality of food sold in the market,” said Sandhya (21), eating a phuchka at a makeshift stall at Mauryalok on Sunday.
Doctors have warned residents to be extra cautious while eating at stalls. “Apart from food poisoning, there is a high chance of suffering from gastritis, acidity, diarrhoea, dysentery and hepatitis if one eats food cooked in unhygienic conditions. Even if the food is cooked in hygienic surroundings in re-used oil, it can be dangerous. So, one needs to check if the samosa, chowmein or other items have been re-heated and whether the items have been heated in the same oil,” said Diwakar Tejaswi.
The state chapter of Indian Medical Association has issued four emergency helpline numbers for assistance during the festival. The numbers are 0612-2321542, 93341 18112, 98350 65370, 93341 18669.