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Annadhanams’ to come under food safety department radar

9,December, 2018

Trichy: Annadhanam served at religious functions and other events would come under the radar of the Trichy district food safety department after more than 40 people fell ill, allegedly due to food poisoning after eating in a temple function near Musiri a few days ago.

Officials said that at least three to four incidents of mass food poisoning continue to occur in the district every year during annadhanams and stated that they would intensify monitoring, surveillance and testing especially over the course of the next couple of months. The department officials also mentioned that they would conduct awareness programmes in rural areas of the district, since a few unregistered annadhanams continued to take place there only.

The designated officer (DO) for the district food safety department, Dr R Chitra said that since several religious functions – especially Vaikunda Ekadasi – are scheduled very soon, the department would come up with strict measures so that annadhanams are done hygienically and as per the guidance. On Sunday, 46 people, including children suffered from food poisoning after they consumed food during a Mariamman temple function at Umaiyalpuram village. While a few received treatment at the Musiri government hospital, four children were referred to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital (MGMGH).

“Buttermilk, sundal (chickpeas), pearl millet porridge and curd rice were served for the devotees. We’ve sent the food sample for testing and based on the result, we would take further action,” food safety officer, Musiri block, M Vadivel said. He added that no one had registered with the department for conducting annadhanam at the temple.

In the last three years, Trichy has seen two major mass food poisonings – one during a festival at Samayapuram temple in which more than 100 people fell ill, while about 100 fell sick at a private family function due to contaminated water served there. “After these incidents, the number of people who register with us to organise annadhanams increased,” an official told TOI.

About 750 people have registered to perform annadhanam throughout Trichy district at present. Whenever there’s a registered annadhanam event, the organisers are directed to keep food sample separately which would be tested by the department. While using a different oil was cited as reason for food poisoning this time, generally such cases are due to serving decayed food, spoilt milk, contaminated water or expired ingredients. A source from the department said that most of the cases were unintentional and due to ignorance. “In some cases, items like mutton biryani and other non-vegetarian dishes are served to very young children too,” the official added.

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