On Sunday, 25 passengers of the premium train Tejas Express complained of illness after having breakfast served to them between Goa and Mumbai. They were then admitted to a hospital in Chiplun in Maharashtra for “suspected” food poisoning. It was also reported that the Railway Ministry had issued a show cause notice to terminate the catering contract of J.K. Ghosh, the caterer responsible for supplying food in Tejas Express.
Now, in a recent development surrounding the matter, central railway’s inquiry committee has instead blamed the passengers for the situation and held that the quality of the food served on the train was fine. The investigators have concluded that the cause of unease among the passengers were some children who had vomited and “vitiated the air quality and triggered uneasiness” in the air-conditioned coach.
The report submitted by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) reads:
From the perusal of interaction with passengers, statements given by passengers, on duty TTEs, AC mechanic and pantry staff, it appears that the food quality served on Tejas Express was satisfactory.
Some food samples of soup powder, poha, cake, bread sticks, kokum sarbat and mango punch that was served during the breakfast were taken by the Central Railway and it was observed that “they all were well within their expiry (date)”. However, as per the same report, sample of the omelette that reportedly smelled foul had not been tested by the authorities.
Towards its conclusion, the report reads:
A few passengers complained of slightly different smell from omelette served to them. Quality of omelette may be ensured while serving.
When asked as to why a sample of omelette was not taken for quality control testing, an IRCTC official told The Hindu:
“There was no need to take the sample of omelette as many other passengers who consumed it had no issues with it.”
According to the report, two children who were a part of a tourist group from Himachal Pradesh vomited inside the coach. It further said that this triggered uneasiness among other passengers in that coach and led to four more children vomiting in the train. The report said that the vomiting “vitiated the air quality and triggered uneasiness”.
Further, it said that the railway authorities had interacted with 20 passengers travelling in the train and “none of them complained about the quality of food or soup”. The inquiry committee had also recorded statement of a tour group belonging to Kolkata. The group has been traveling to different parts of Maharashtra since past 16 days, carrying their own food material and cooks. Six members of this group were also hospitalized but made no complaints regarding the quality of food served to them in the train.