Kochi: If Kochiites have developed an appetite for shawarma, it is now time to say goodbye to the Arabian extravaganza at least for the time being. The Food Safety Wing on Wednesday banned the sale of shawarma in the district following raids at various places in the city. The ban on the stalls will continue until the hotels and stalls concerned ensure hygiene and food safety.
“The decision was taken after it was found during the raids that most of the shawarma outlets were run under unhygienic conditions,” said District Food Safety Officer K Ajith. The black-marked hotels and stalls can be reopened at the earliest once they adopt the necessary steps and submit themselves to an inspection by the officials of the Food Safety and Standards Wing.
Meanwhile, raids were conducted in various parts of the city in the morning. As many as 14 food joints were inspected of which four were shut down. Cochin Tourist Corporation, Rolex Hotel near the Ernakulam South KSRTC stand, Hotel Paradise near Edappally toll, and the Sharwarma joint ‘Taaza’ at Palarivattom were shut down. Two shawarma stalls were closed down on Tuesday.
“We are closing down only those joints which are functioning under highly unhygienic conditions. Others have been given notices to improve in the next 14 days. If that is not done, further action will be taken,” said R S Satheesh, Chief Food Safety Officer, who led the team of 13 safety inspectors from across the district who conducted the raids.
Highly unsanitary conditions were found in some of the hotels. “Even while we proceeded towards the kitchen, there was the nauseating stench of latrines. There was a toilet right in the kitchen. The floors were filthy,” said a health inspector. The officers also reported coloured food grains, use of chemicals like ajinomotto beyond the prescribed limits and so on.
The officials did not take food samples during the inspection. “If we are to take the samples we would have to spend at least 30 minutes in a hotel. We were given directions to complete as many as hotels as possible,” said an officer.
The Vyapari Vyavasayai Samithi said that if raids are conducted regularly such unhygienic practices at hotels could be prevented. “Moreover, these raids often become avenues for the bureaucrats concerned to demand bribes and abuse the hotels,” said Binni Immatty, state president of the Kerala State Vyapari Vyavasayi Samithi.