Lab tests have revealed that food served at Karnataka government-run Indira Canteens are unfit for human consumption. Items like rice, sambar and bisi bele bath (lentil rice dish), which were taken as samples, were not up to the quality for human consumption. The tests reportedly found the presence of certain chemicals, bacteria and fungus.
The results were based on tests conducted by the Public Health Institute (PHI) and Ramaiah Advanced Testing Laboratory. It was commissioned by BJP leader Umesh Shetty at five Indira Canteens in Bengaluru. The food samples were collected from canteens in Jayanagar, JP Nagar, Byatarayanapura, Mudalapalya and Nagapura.
Umesh Shetty said the idea behind collecting samples originated when he noticed that the municipal sanitary workers (pourakarmikas) were not present in full strength during daily mustering. "I was told many absent pourakarmikas were suffering from stomach-ache, diarrhoea and other stomach-related ailments. I suspected problems with the Indira Canteen food they were consuming. This forced me to get food samples tested," Shetty told TOI.
Shetty added that he will now file a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). He also said that Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) claims that nearly 20 lakh people eat from the Indira Canteens, but it is not true as it is inflated by the officials to claim bills.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara has also reacted to the issue. He said that he has directed BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad to conduct a quality check of the food items served. Strict action will be taken against the contractors if the food quality is found to be adultered.
BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad has directed the health officials to test the canteen food at FSSAI approved or National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited or reputed laboratories, reports Deccan Herald.
A low-cost food subsidisation programme run by the Karnataka government, the Indira Canteens serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at meagre rates. Initiated in August 2017 by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, the canteens aim at providing food to the economically backward sectors at subsidized rates.