Viral / Man shares pic of lizard inside packet of pakoras; FSSAI inspects TN shop

Zoom News : Oct 28, 2021, 12:04 PM
Chennai: At a sweets and snacks shop in Palayamkottai town of Tirunelveli district, a dead lizard was reportedly found inside a packet of snacks. The image of the dead lizard, alongside the fried savoury snack in a packet, was shared widely on social media.

As per reports, a man hailing from Maharaja Nagar had purchased a packet of pakora from a shop on October 23. When he reached home and opened the packet, he had found a dead lizard inside it. He then lodged a complaint through WhatsApp with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) who directed Tirunelveli officials to look into the issue.

A team of officials led by Sasi Deepa, the designated officer of the department of food safety, visited the shop and found many violations, including the sweets and savouries not being properly kept in closed containers.

A couple of sweet items, including gulab jamun, which were kept in plastic boxes, were found to be expired while some packets were found without proper labels. The officials destroyed all of them.

The officials also took samples of some of the snack items and sent them to the laboratory for testing. The shop was ordered to close for a day and the authorities ordered the shop owner to make the required hygiene arrangement before the second round of inspection. The outlet was later provided permission to operate from Tuesday evening.

Speaking to, Sasi Deepa said, “We received a WhatsApp complaint followed by instructions from the district office as well. The incident happened on October 23 but we received the complaint on the evening of October 25. The complainant claimed that when he opened the packet, he found a dead lizard inside it. The packet was never handed over to us, we just received a photo. Based on that, we inspected the shop.”

She added, “The particular type of pakora which the complaint claimed was not found in the shop. But the shop violated many FSSAI norms. The outlet was not hygienic and the products were not properly covered. The shop owner claimed that they have kept everything open as they are cleaning the shop. We took samples and issued an improvement notice to them. We informed the shop owner to open the shop after providing a written statement and making required measures as per the FSSAI norms.”

After a declaration from the owner, the officials visited the shop and took videos and photos and received the written statement from the shop owner. After asserting that the shop has followed the FSSAI norms, the shop was allowed to operate.

Commenting on the dead lizard issue, Sasi said if the complaint had produced the packet before opening it, they would have taken a legal route as it would have all the details of the purchase date, shop name and other details clearly.

“Once a packet is cut, we will take whatever we find during inspection. The complaint didn’t produce the product. We found violations at the shop and we took steps accordingly,” she added.

Tirunelveli city Commissioner of Police N K Senthamaraikannan told that they have received a petition from the shop owner alleging that the person had implanted the lizard in the packet and demanded a ransom of Rs 20 lakh to stop him from taking the issue to the media.

“The petitioner claimed that the allegation is wrong. They said they are being threatened and some political parties have created this problem by implanting the lizard inside the packet. The food and safety officials have taken cognizance of the incident. We have asked for a status report from them as they too cannot categorically say whether it was implanted or it was truly found in the packet due to the carelessness of the workers. Further action will be taken based on the report,” he said.