At least 25 passengers on board Central Railway’s (CR) Tejas Express, which runs from Karmali to Mumbai were served stale food for dinner on Saturday night. This is the second such incident since last week, IRCTC suspended its onboard catering supervisor and served a termination notice to authorised caterer after a stale breakfast was served to the passengers on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express.
After passengers loged complaints with the authorities, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on the caterer, while also issuing a showcause notice for termination of its contract.
According to a passenger, the mixed vegetable served for dinner had a strong stench. The matter was brought to the notice of supervisor, who then changed the food packets.
"As we were served dinner, we noticed the pulao and rotis smelled bad. We immediately informed the on-board staff but it was of no help. I felt uneasy and vomited after having the food. I requsted for a doctor but none was provided. There were eight passengers who vomited," another passenger said.
According to IRCTC officials, "The caterer had loaded the food packed from Chiplun station. The food was prepared at the base kitchen of the Railways in Chiplun and packed in casseroles. Usually, the food prepared is cooled first and then packed to be loaded from enroute stations. It is then heated inside the trains before being served to the passengers."
“But in this case, the food was packed while it was still hot and immediately loaded when the train halted at Chiplun between 6.18 pm to 6.20 pm,” said a senior official said. The food was served to passengers around 8.30 pm, by when a few packets had developed a stench. “The high-end base kitchens, such as the one at Mumbai Central, have a chiller where the food is put to cool down before being packed. But in this case, as these precautions were not taken, the food turned stale with its own steam,” the official added.
“IRCTC has imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on the caterer while a showcause notice for termination of contract has also being issued. Further, action will be taken against the supervisor of the coach. The food served is being closely monitored to ensure such incident is not repeated, “ said Shivaji Sutar, Chief PRO of CR.
The incident comes four days after 40 women onboard Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express had fallen ill allegedly due to food poisoning after they were served stale bread and butter.