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Toxins That Can Cause Severe Neurological Disorders Found in Dead Animal Meat Seized in Bengal

Several hotels and restaurants in Howrah, Hooghly, North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas and Kolkata were sealed by the municipal authorities after ‘poor quality’ raw meat and fish were found in their chest freezers.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:May 4, 2018, 7:06 PM IST
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Toxins That Can Cause Severe Neurological Disorders Found in Dead Animal Meat Seized in Bengal
Representative Image (Image: Reuters)
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Kolkata: The dead animal meat that was being supplied to restaurants in Kolkata and other cities in West Bengal contained dangerous toxins that if consumed can lead to severe neurological disorders, forensic tests conducted at a government laboratory have revealed.

A senior official of the state health department said that preliminary tests found traces of ammonia, chlorine and bacteria like Clostridium Botulinum, Listeria Monocytogenes and E. coli in some of the meat samples.

Clostridium Botulinum has the ability to produce the neurotoxin botulinum, which can cause a severe flaccid paralytic disease in humans and other animals and is the most potent toxin known to humankind, natural or synthetic.

Listeria Monocytogenes, on the other hand, is one of the most virulent foodborne pathogens. Around 20 to 30 per cent of food borne listeriosis infections in high-risk individuals can be fatal.

The carcass samples that were tested were seized from Hooghly, Howrah, Kolkata, North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas districts in Bengal. Officials said that investigations have revealed that it was being sold to various vendors within Bengal and in states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. It was also being sold to Nepal and Bangladesh, officials said.

Two more persons involved in the racket were arrested on Friday. Mohammad Akhlaq and Sikander Sheikh were picked up from Budge Budge area in South 24-Parganas district, police said.

Both of them were close to Biswanath Ghorui, who is said to be the kingpin of the racket. He owned the cold storage in Kolkata’s Rajabazaar area from where the dead animal meat was seized.

Speaking to News18, South 24-Parganas SP Koteswara Rao said, “So far, 13 people have been arrested. It’s a big racket and we are probing all angles. Soon, we will release an official report in this matter.”

“This case is sensitive and we don’t want to create unnecessary panic among people. Let our officer complete their investigation and let the Central Forensic Science Report come out. We will then inform everything officially,” he added.

Alarmed by the meat racket, food safety officers of the Eastern and South Eastern Railways also collected samples from various vendors in Bengal and sent it for forensic tests.

Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s MMiC, Health, Atin Ghosh along with officials conducted surprise checks at roadside eateries. They collected samples and sent them for forensic tests. “We will not spare anyone who is involved in such heinous crime,” Ghosh said.

Meat chunks meant for animals at the Alipore Zoo were also collected. All the districts administrations have also been asked to collect samples from food meant for midday meal schemes.

Several hotels and restaurants in Howrah, Hooghly, North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas and Kolkata were sealed by the municipal authorities after ‘poor quality’ raw meat and fish were found in their chest freezers.

The Hotel and Restaurants’ Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) has urged people not to panic. “Your favourite and reputed restaurants in Park Street and other parts of city follow strict food safety standards and you can enjoy your favourite cuisines without any hesitation,” they said in a statement.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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