Food safety officials ordered the closure of two restaurants in the city on Saturday, as part of the drive undertaken to ensure quality of food ahead of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas scheduled to begin here on Monday.

Orders were issued to Searock restaurant and Meen Ruchi restaurant to reopen only after abiding by the mandatory food safety norms. The Commissioner for Food Safety Biju Prabhakar who supervised the inspections told The Hindu that the two eateries refused to comply with norms, despite two notices being issued to them a few months ago. The food safety team found that stale and non-edible food and curries were stored in the freezer at the two eateries.

Mr Prabhakar said special drives would soon be launched against the storage and sale of pan masala and gutka, which are harmful to health. “Plans are also on the anvil to ensure the quality of water served in hotels and also used for cooking. A clampdown is also on the cards against the adulteration of condiments and spices,” he said. Swift action would be taken against owners of godowns and shops that stock pan masala. “Their source will also be probed,” said R.S. Satheeshkumar, Chief Food Safety Officer, Mobile Vigilance Squad, Ernakulam.

He said drinking water of inferior quality was being supplied in bottled form and also through tanker lorries. “Only food grade tankers must be used for transporting drinking water. But often, those which used to transport petroleum products and other cargo are (washed and) deputed to supply drinking water,” he said. Rule violators may even face imprisonment, depending on the gravity of their offence.

A clampdown is on

the cards against adulteration

of spices.