MUMBAI: The food chain sent fresh food as random sample to the team, while the truck was loaded with ‘stale’ food for school students, claimed the organizers of Thursday’s event. Around 20 students, between the age group of 13-19 years, were hospitalized and hundreds more complained of uneasiness and vomiting after consuming food served by the popular food chain, Box8, at four different venues for the conference on Friday. An FIR was filed by the Khar police against Poncho Hospitality private Limited, which runs ‘Box8’, for causing harm and pain to young students.
Rishabh Shah, the founder president of the Indian International Model United Nations, a students-run organization, which has arranged for the conference to discuss world issues, said that Box8 had promised to send food from four different kitchens to their venues. “But they sent food from their kitchen in Thane to all the four centres, including the one at KC College in Churchgate,” said Shah.
“We had done a careful survey of caterers who would serve food at four different venues. But the firm failed to deliver its promise and instead put the lives of several young children, aged 13-19 years, in danger,” said Shah. Several parents signed a petition on Friday, seeking action against the food outlet.
The incident discouraged some parents and teachers to send their children for the second day of the conference affecting the attendance severely at one of the venues. While attendance at Thadomal Shahani College of Engineering, was down by 50% on Friday, around 75-80% students reported at KC and Lala Lajpatrai College for the second day of the conference. The attendance at Whistling Woods by and large remained unaffected. Some schools and parents decided not to send their students on day two. “We decided not to send our students for the conference on Friday. Out of the 65, one of the students had to be admitted,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Drive. Similarly, a group of eight students from JB Vachha High School did not attend day two.
Some schools were, however, happy with the arrangements on day two. “We have a policy that the teachers check the food before the students consume it so we were lucky the students didn’t eat. The children went for day two and the arrangements were in place,” said Armaity Engineer, principal,Bhaktivedanta Swami Mission School, Juhu.
Arya Jain, brother of a volunteer, who had to be admitted to the Jaslok Hospital said that his sister is discharged and is recovering. “She is feeling little weak. But we would sue Box8 if her problem persists,” said Jain. Numerologist Sanjay Jumaani, whose daughter complained of uneasiness, also said that the police need to take action against the company.
Meanwhile, an official statement released by Box8, stated, “We are deeply concerned about the news report of illness caused to some students yesterday. Box8 maintains a rigourous quality process through preparation of food and delivery system, including tasting the food before serving, which too was followed yesterday without any adverse results. Matter is being inquired by the authorities and we have been fully co-operating to identify the cause. Once the cause is identified, Box8 will spare no efforts to deal with the same.”