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Move for blanket ban on street food in Kochi dropped

Staff Reporter
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Health officials to inspect the operation of wayside eateries

Hygiene standards: With most hotels and eateries in Kochi remaining closed at night, people depend on roadside food stalls. — Photo: Vipin Chandran
Hygiene standards: With most hotels and eateries in Kochi remaining closed at night, people depend on roadside food stalls. — Photo: Vipin Chandran

Health officials in the district will launch an intensive drive to inspect the operation of thattukadas (street food vendors) in the district, District Panchayat President Eldhose Kunnappilly has said.

Much to the relief of the thattukada operators, the District Panchayat has backtracked on its initial decision to ban all thattukadas in the district for two months in the wake of the spread of communicable diseases. “Action will be taken only against those operators who fail to comply with the hygiene standards. We dropped the idea of a uniform ban taking into consideration the difficulties it will cause to the public and those who will be deprived of their livelihood,” Mr. Kunnappilly said.

A meeting of public health officials, district medical officers, and several local body representatives called by the District Panchayat on Saturday had decided to close down thattukadas for at least two months in view of the spread of jaundice in the district. The decision was based on a report by the State epidemiologist who found that water used in toddy along with the food and water served by thattukadas contributed largely to the spread of jaundice.

Mr. Kunnappilly said that the inspection of thattukadas would be launched as soon as the officials who are engaged in the chlorination drive were free. The drive to chlorinate drinking water sources in the district is likely to be completed by Thursday.

Health officials visiting thattukadas will inspect the quality of food and drinking water served. How hygienically the food is cooked, whether the food is properly covered, whether the dishes are washed in clean water and whether the thattukadas are located near open drains will be some of the factors looked into.

Eateries not found to meet the hygiene standards will be served a notice asking them to make amends within three days. In the event of continued non-compliance, thattukadas at fault will be closed down, Mr. Kunnappilly said.

He said that a meeting of presidents of all panchayats would be convened shortly to review the health scenario in the district. “Progress of measures already taken and steps to be taken further to keep the situation under control will be discussed. Whether communicable diseases have been reported from new areas will also be checked,” he said.

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