Food outlet favourite leaves a bad taste

It was a ‘surprise visit’ and as men, women and children were tucking into their favourite menu option at the Colombo outlet of a popular food chain, a team from the Public Health Department of the Colombo Municipal Council walked into the kitchen last morning and took samples of the food for testing.

The three-member team headed by the Medical Officer of Health and comprising a Food Inspector and a Public Health Inspector from the CMC’s South Colombo area was ordered to take samples following a complaint of a worm being found in a burger, CMC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam confirmed when the Sunday Times contacted him.

The food samples will be sent for testing at the laboratory, the report of which will be available in a week. If the samples are found to be contaminated, legal action will be instituted, Dr. Kariyawasam explained, advising people who have issues with food or drinks served by restaurants or eating houses to report the matter to the Food Control Unit immediately. (Complaints can be lodged on the hotline: 011-2676161 which operates from 8.30 a.m. to 10 p.m.)

Don’t negotiate with the outlets and don’t give back the food or drink sample. If possible retain the receipt as well, he stressed. The visit by the Public Health Department followed a complaint that teenagers enjoying a meal on Saturday, March 5, found a worm in the food.

“When my children informed the staff, they had quickly taken not only the half-eaten meal, but also the receipt which was on the table,” said the father, explaining that the staff had then asked them whether they wanted anything else to eat. The children had refused and left the restaurant.

When the father, a senior public official who was abroad at the time of the incident, returned on Monday, the children were ill, prone to “stomach trouble” and bouts of vomiting. He had then gone to the outlet, spoken to the Manager and informed him that he would be making a complaint to the area police. Then the Manager had pleaded with him not to do so as action would be forthcoming.

After numerous phone calls later during the week, with promises that the senior management would be in touch but still no contact with the management and no action, the public official had informed the Colombo Municipal Council on Friday night, after which CMC officials collected the samples from the restaurant’s kitchen on Saturday.

When contacted, the outlet’s Shift Manager declined to comment and requested the Sunday Times to call the Manager on his mobile. The Manager, when asked for a comment, said he was out of the office and will call back, but did not do so.

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