Schoolgirl dies after consuming shawarma in Namakkal, 43 others hospitalized

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Representational image.  file

Representational image. File | Photo Credit: B. Velankanni Raj

A 14-year-old girl who consumed chicken shawarma from a restaurant in Namakkal was found dead at her residence on Monday, September 18. A total of 43 persons, including four of the victim’s family members and 11 medical college students, who developed fever. , vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea after eating the dish, were admitted to Namakkal Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and private hospitals and were undergoing treatment.

The deceased has been identified as D. Kalaiarasi of AS Pettai in Namakkal town. She along with her father Dhavakmar, 42, mother Sujatha, 38, brother D. Boopathi, uncle Sijoj, 60, and aunty Kavitha, 56, dined at the restaurant on Paramathi Road on the night of September 16. They consumed fried rice, shawarma , marinated meat dishes and returned home.

Later, the girl, a class 9 student at Kottai Government High School, had developed fever and other complications. She was taken to a private hospital on Sunday and was treated as an outpatient. On Monday morning, she passed away.

Namakkal Collector S. Uma visited the persons undergoing treatment at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Namakkal on September 18, 2023, after they fell ill after consuming shawarma.  Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Namakkal Collector S. Uma visited the persons undergoing treatment at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Namakkal on September 18, 2023, after they fell ill after consuming shawarma. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Visiting the hospital, Namakkal Collector S. Uma told media persons that the issue came to light when the second year MBBS students got admitted to the hospital after consuming food at the restaurant on Saturday night.

“After we received a call about the child’s death, we alerted the Revenue Department, Superintendent of Police and Food Safety Department,” she said. The Collector said when officials visited her home, they found her brother Boopathi in a collapsed state with lowered pulse and blood pressure. Other family members had also developed symptoms and all were shifted to the hospital, she said. An autopsy was performed and the body was handed over to the relatives.

Ms. Uma said food safety department officials inspected the restaurant and found the meat and other items in the freezer compartment to be good. Meat samples were sent for laboratory tests in Salem, and the restaurant was sealed, she said.

The Collector said the poultry farm that supplied chicken was also inspected. A total of 200 persons consumed food on Saturday night of which, 38 persons, including a pregnant woman and five children, were undergoing treatment, she said.

Food safety officers were inspecting all the fast food shops in the district and were asked to submit reports in two days, she added.

‘Medical negligence angle being probed’

The Collector said in the absence of a doctor in the private hospital on Sunday, the girl was not evaluated and sent home. The Deputy Director of Health Services is carrying out a detailed investigation in the private hospital on why she was discharged. “Based on the report, if any negligence is found, we will take action,” she assured.

Superintendent of Police S. Rajesh Kannan said a case under Sections 273 (sale of noxious food), 304 (ii) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) of IPC was registered against the owner Naveen. Kumar, cooks, Sanjay Mahakur and Dabash Kumar, both native of Odisha. “All the three were arrested,” he added.

The Food Safety Department has also temporarily banned the sale of shawarma and grilled chicken in restaurants and hotels across the district.

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