Wednesday Nov 14, 2018
KARACHI: A local food regulatory and inspection authority on Tuesday recovered expired meat from an eatery currently under investigation over the death of two minor siblings.
The Sindh Food Authority (SFA) conducted a raid based on a tip-off wherein it was informed that its seal barring entry/exit to the restaurant in question, located in the metropolis' upper-scale Zamzama neighbourhood, had been removed.
Upon arrival, officials realised that the restaurant's supplies were being moved secretly. Meat that had expired back in 2015 was recovered, they said, adding that they noticed it had a rotting stench to it.
According to Abrar Sheikh, the director of the SFA, the eatery's management had earlier failed to disclose the existence of the godown that was discovered today.
The godown contained food items, including beverages and meat unfit for consumption, with the expiry date clearly visible on the labels, Sheikh said, adding that an attempt was being made to move the rotten meat elsewhere.
"The meat was rotten and stinking, and we have removed it from the scene. It will be discarded because, otherwise, it is likely to cause and spread diseases," Sheikh said.
As SFA officials recovered the items from the newfound godown, collected samples of edibles present inside, and sealed it subsequently, the food authority's chief said it was a crime to move items, without prior disclosure, from a godown that is part of a restaurant already under investigation.
A young man, said to be transferring the expired meat, was also taken into custody for questioning.
A first information report (FIR) was also filed Tuesday night, the deceased children's father, Ahsan, told media personnel. The case includes clauses of murder without an apparent motive and poisoning, he added.
Ahsan said he was doubtful that the cotton candy his late kids had eaten on the fateful night could be the reason for their death. "They had [it] at home too," he stated.
Their maternal grandfather, on the other hand, said the minor boys had eaten from four different places and that it was now up to the police to take proper action and determine which food item caused the deaths.
Two children, identified as 18-month-old Ahmed and Muhammad, 5, lost their lives on November 11, allegedly due to "food poisoning" after dining at the restaurant.
Police initiated a probe into the matter after the restaurant was sealed for forensic investigation.
The post-mortem of the two children was completed Sunday night. According to Dr Shiraz, the medico-legal officer at Jinnah Hospital, the brothers had apparently died due to "food poisoning".
Earlier in the day, Sindh Assembly speaker Agha Siraj Durrani formed a three-member committee to oversee the provincial food authority. It comprises Sohrab Sarki, Sanjay Perwani, and Ghanwer Ali Khan Isran, and would work towards the betterment of the SFA.
Late Monday night, the mother of the two deceased minor boys recorded her statement with the authorities, investigation sources said.
According to the sources, samples of more than 30 items from the residence of the bereaved family were taken and are scheduled to be sent to a laboratory for chemical analysis.
A closed-circuit television footage from the playland, from where the family bought sweets, and the restaurant, where the deceased last dined, were also being analysed, the sources noted.
The final cause of death can fully be ascertained only after the post-mortem and laboratory reports are released, the sources added.
According to Sheikh, the SFA director, the restaurant in question had been served an improvement notice two months prior to the incident.
Speaking of the two children's deaths on Sunday, Sheikh told Geo Pakistan: “The restaurant had been inspected around two months ago and was served an improvement notice along with a checklist.”
“We did not issue a No Objection Certificate to the restaurant,” he said, adding that they did not “have a certificate or registration process in place earlier”.
“We will start the process of registering eateries across the province from the end of this month,” he added.