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From The Deep Fried Rat At KFC In USA To The Cat Biryani In India, My #FoodHorrorStory

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By Arati Nair

We invited you to share the best of your worst eating out experiences, here’s the answer to our call for a #foodhorrorstory.

I love adventures. When not rock climbing or scuba diving myself, I spare no efforts to cheer others on. My inner cheerleader particularly makes an appearance during those stunt reality shows like ‘Fear Factor’ and its Hindi rip-off, ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’. My spirited calls are along the lines of “You go girl! Munch away those hairy arachnids,” or “Yo! Sleep tight in that rat tank,” or “Yeah! Take a dip in that mucus bath.

Sadly, this adventurous persona goes into hibernation when my own palate comes into play. Experimentation with food is not really up my alley, which reminds me of this memorable incident involving TV, dinner and roaches.

cockroachThere I was, enjoying some really tasty chilly chicken takeaway and watching yet another engrossing episode of ‘Fear Factor’, when I felt the tell-tale prickle of beady eyes watching me. From my plate. These eyes, dead to the world, also came attached with a glossy distended body, six hairy legs and two antennae. Sometime between throwing up and screaming bloody murder, I realized that my piping hot chilly chicken came with a side helping of roach roast.

Looking back, it seems discovering cockroach remains in your food is not really a horrifying experience limited to lazy couch potatoes like yours truly. Over the years, this ‘human-creature conflict’ on the food tray has gained much notoriety. Even as the Maggi controversy settles as a ‘leaden’ weight in our stomachs, here are a few gross cases of food-poisoning by creature contents:

1) ‘Deep Fried Rat’ In A KFC Meal

kfc fried ratKFC is one food-joint that has mushroomed even in Tier-2 towns in India. But does the fast food culture really inspire blind faith in a multinational corporate giant? This viral video shows a fried piece of chicken in the shape of a rat served at a Californian outlet of KFC. Before we jump the gun, let’s heave a sigh that nothing has been confirmed yet, except the really gross rubbery taste! I thought they had learnt their lesson after the live worms catastrophe in Kerala. Apparently not!

KFC in fact issued an update saying that it was 100% white meat.

2) Baby Lizard In The Tomato Can

In another nauseating incident, a dead baby lizard was found in a can of tomatoes by a South Asian couple in the UK. The pregnant wife was taken ill after she abandoned her curry preparations for the day, having made this disgusting discovery. The distributor of the product, Euro Foods claims to have contacted the Italian supplier and demanded an explanation. Let’s hope the investigation is fruitful.

3) Live Larvae In Baby Food

What are these guys at Nestle playing at? So you put a bit of lead and MSG in my favourite two-minute snack. Was that not enough? Now, a taxi driver from Coimbatore claims to have found live larvae in the Nestle NAN PRO 3 milk powder he bought for feeding his twin babies. The Tamil Nadu Food Safety Wing declared the sample unsafe. DUH!

4) Cockroach Cheese Sandwich

This story sounds eerily familiar. There’s food, then there are roaches. But unlike my case, here the debate is still raging over the creature’s identity. The complainant from Ahmedabad alleges that his wife discovered a cockroach in the cheese sandwich bought from a snack outlet at the international airport, while the clueless authorities are calling it an ant. Even when a probe is underway, the airport officials reiterate that a mountain is being built of a mole hill. Apparently, ants are harmless when consumed with cheese.

5) Hot Cat In Your Biryani

We started with a rat. It’s only fair that we end with a cat. With the rising demand for meat, cats are being slaughtered and passed off as lamb chops and mutton roast in Chennai. Stolen cats have been rescued from various gypsy colonies by volunteers. Apparently, cat meat is also being served as mutton alongside biryani in small-scale restaurants in parts of the city. A crackdown is in the offing. So, next time you hear a ‘meow’ at an eatery, beware!

Food Horror StoriesMy personal experience with roach roast, though worth a hearty laugh, pales in comparison with these disgusting food horrors. But, you never know, maybe someone amongst you readers would have equally disturbing tales to share. Looking forward to hearing them.

Does this bring back some not-so-happy memories? Share them with us at info@youthkiawaaz.com. The best stories will get published!

You must be to comment.
  1. D

    That’s horrifying!

  2. Anjee Bhatia

    Great write up. Sounds quite horrifying. Looking forward to another piece where you can put light on cases of brands that have been investigated once creatures have been found in the food. Would love to know if customer complaints have been looked into by concerened authority ( for example the rat in the KFC, what happened after that? )
    I am curious about the cockroach you found. What did you do?

    1. Arati Nair

      Thanks, Anjee.
      I complained against the restaurant and the authorities shut it down. After two months, on my way back home, I discovered that it had been reopened. Same with the earlier instance of live worms being found in a KFC meal. The outlet was sealed for about a month, after which it started functioning again. The store said that the frozen raw chicken was shipped from Hyderabad and the worms had somehow escaped scrutiny. There was dharna, sloganeering etc. for a couple of days, then everything resumed as it was before. The dead rat incident has not been confirmed and KFC says someone planted a hoax to defame them. The complainant is refusing to comment on the matter, except stating that the manager of the outlet in question had accepted that it was indeed a rat and offered a free meal to him as compensation (this he stated in an American radio show). Maybe we’ll know the truth soon.
      The judgement by a Supreme Court bench, comprising Altamas Kabir, Cyriac Joseph and Deepak Verma in favour of Pepsi Co. (the bench said that there were no prescribed and validated methods of analysis to detect the pesticide, Carbofuran in the carbonated beverage) became a precedent for cases pertaining to food adulteration and poisoning. This judgement was quoted in the case of the local restaurant I mentioned in the article. Needless to say, they won the case on the basis of technicalities.
      Here’s the full judgement: http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1860649/

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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