A week has passed since 146 people in the city suffered food poisoning after consuming vari (buckwheat), but the State Public Health Laboratory (SPHL) has still not been able to detect the toxic component in the food item that made those fasting during Navratri sick.

Tough nut to crack? The sealed samples of vari flour seized by the FDA
last week from stores in the city. file pic

The reason sources in SPHL give for the delay in preparing the test report is that it is for the first time that any grain has caused food poisoning in the city. "We received the samples of vari on the same day as the incident happened. However, adulteration through any grain has happened for the first time in the city and that is the reason we are getting delayed in submitting our report to the FDA, as we have to check each parameter which can be responsible for the poisoning," said a source.

The SPHL sources said that the lab had almost ruled out the possibility of chemical or bacterial toxicity as the cause of food poisoning. "The common symptom of food poisoning is vomiting and the same symptom was seen in last week's adulteration incident. However, there is no earlier case of such an incident; it has become challenge for us to find out the exact reason of food poisoning," said a source. "Nevertheless, our team of as many as 30 people is engaged in finding out whether the pesticides or fungal infection on crop is responsible for occurrence of food poisoning."

The report on the samples sent by the FDA is expected to come out in a week now, according to the source.
Sources in the FDA said that once the report came in, they would be in a position to pinpoint which brand of vari was responsible for the food poisoning and take a call on ban permanently.