As people steer clear of vari, FDA says no need to panic

Food and Drug Administration seizes 1,086.31 tonnes of vari stock in district

Even as people cut out vari (buckwheat) from their Navratri menu after mass food poisoning was reported in the city last week, Assistant Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Chandrashekhar Salunke appealed to citizens to take precautions and not panic.

Seized: Sealed packets of vari flour seized by the FDA

As many as 146 people had fallen sick and were rushed to seven hospitals in the city early in the morning on Thursday after having eaten items made of vari. "Till today (Sunday) we have impounded 1,086.31 tonnes of vari stock worth Rs 66 lakh from as many as 49 wholesalers and retailers in Pune district," Salunke said.

"However, it doesn't mean that the whole stock is adulterated and injurious to health. We took action only as a precaution. I appeal to the people to not worry but just take precautions." FDA took action on sellers predominantly from Market Yard and Kothrud. The two major brands banned by the FDA are Royal and Chetak.

"We are banning all the brands from Nashik and Thane as a precautionary step. However, we have sent samples of vari to the Public Health Laboratory for testing to see whether they are adulterated. Once the report comes in, we can definitely analyse which brand of vari was responsible for food poisoning and which brand should be banned permanently," said Salunke.

In the case of food poisoning, 59 people were admitted and discharged on Friday and Saturday. There was no fresh case of food poisoning yesterday, said Medical Officer of Health, Pune Municipal Corporation, Dr R R Pardeshi.

Still, people are steering clear of vari while fasting for Navratri. "I fast during Navratri and on other specific days as well. However, after this incident, we have skipped vari and eat fruits and sweet potatoes during a fast," said homemaker Medha Kulkarni.

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