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  • Writer's pictureVarunesh Vishwakarma

10-Year-Old Girl Passes Away After Consuming Birthday Cake Ordered from Zomato: A Compliance Problem

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A tragic incident shook the city of Patiala recently. A 10-year-old girl had ordered a birthday cake online from a restaurant called 'Cake Kanha' through the popular food delivery platform Zomato. Sadly, after consuming the cake, the young girl passed away. Other family members who ate the cake also fell ill.

This came as a big shock to everyone. The girl's family complained to the police about the restaurant. They said the cake caused the death of the child. The police started an investigation into the matter.

Zomato, too, took strict action. As soon as they learned about the incident, they immediately removed the restaurant Cake Kanha from their platform and permanently banned the restaurant owner. A spokesperson from Zomato said the tragic event deeply saddened them. The company pledged full support to the police investigation.

With such a sad incident, questions were raised about the safety standards of cloud kitchens listed on online food delivery apps. Zomato's quick response, delisting the restaurant and banning the owner, showed how seriously they were taking the matter. However, more needs to be done to ensure such mishaps do not occur in the future.



Background Details of the Incident

  • The incident took place in Patiala, Punjab.

  • A 10-year-old girl ordered a birthday cake online from a restaurant called Cake Kanha through the Zomato platform.

  • On the day of her birthday, when the girl consumed the cake along with her family members, she fell ill. Other family members also had health complaints after eating the cake.

  • Unfortunately, the girl's health deteriorated, and she passed away soon after.

  • Following this tragic death, the girl's family lodged a police complaint alleging that she died due to consuming the cake, which might have been contaminated.

  • The police registered a case under sections 273 and 304-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with the sale of unfit food or drink, endangering life, and causing death by negligence.

  • The police investigation found discrepancies in the billing address provided by the restaurant "Cake Kanha" on Zomato. It was also suspected to be an unregistered cloud kitchen.

  • After being informed about the incident, Zomato took immediate action and delisted the restaurant from its platform. The restaurant owner was also banned from operating on Zomato in the future.

  • Zomato is fully cooperating with the police investigation to understand the exact sequence of events and bring justice to the victim's family.

So, the incident occurred in Patiala when a young girl unfortunately lost her life after consuming a contaminated birthday cake that was ordered online through Zomato. Her family's police complaint launched an investigation into the matter.


Manvi and her sister started vomiting in the night after they had eaten the cake (Picture: NDTV)


Issues with the Restaurant

Here are the key issues found with the restaurant in simple terms:

  • No proper address: When the police checked the address mentioned on the bill copy of the birthday cake order, they found that no shop exists at that registered address in Patiala.

  • Billing from different cities: Another important thing we noticed was that the receipt/invoice from Zomato showed the billing being done from Amritsar City, not from Patiala, where the order was placed and delivered.

  • Suspicion of being an unregistered cloud kitchen: Due to these discrepancies in the address and billing location, the police suspect that the bakery called 'Cake Kanha' might be an unregistered cloud kitchen operating illegally.

  • Lack of proper registration: As a cloud kitchen, it needed to be properly registered with the local authorities, but it was avoiding regulation. This could be why they needed a physical shop address.

  • Poor regulation of cloud kitchens: Many reports mentioned that the incident highlighted the need for better regulation of cloud kitchens listed on food delivery platforms, as their operations seem unmonitored.


So, the key issues were that the restaurant had fake addresses and was billed from another city, which raised suspicion of being an illegal cloud kitchen, avoiding registration norms. This affected the proper monitoring of quality standards.

Zomato's Immediate Response

Zomato responded immediately after learning about the tragic incident in Patiala, where a 10-year-old girl died after eating a birthday cake that was ordered online from a restaurant. As soon as Zomato learned about this, they quickly delisted the Cake Kanha restaurant from their platform.

Zomato issued a statement saying it was deeply shocked and disturbed by this incident. A spokesperson said, "We are heartbroken and deeply shaken by the recent tragic incident that happened in Patiala. As soon as we learned about the incident, which is now under police investigation, we immediately delisted the restaurant from the Zomato platform."

They also banned the restaurant owner from operating on Zomato in the future. Zomato expressed full support for the police investigation and said they want to cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies to ensure justice is served in this matter.

Legal Action Initiated

  • The police have registered a case against the restaurant after the death of the 10-year-old girl who ate a birthday cake ordered from the restaurant.

  • The case has been registered under sections 273 and 304-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

  • Section 273 of IPC is about selling or serving harmful food or drink. It punishes anyone who sells or serves any article of food or drinks that they know is noxious, unsafe, or unfit for consumption.

  • Section 304-A of IPC is about causing death by negligence. It punishes anyone who causes the death of another person by a rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide.

  • The police are investigating if the cake contained any unsafe or harmful ingredients that caused the girl's death and made other family members sick.

  • They are trying to find the exact location of the restaurant and whether it was operating from the address given or was a cloud kitchen without proper facilities.

  • The investigation is still ongoing. Police are examining the cake samples and questioning bakery employees and owners. Based on the findings of the investigation, further action will be Netizens'etizens Criticism of Food Aggregators


Zomato faced significant public backlash on social media after a tragic incident where a young girl died after consuming a birthday cake ordered online from a restaurant listed on the Zomato platform. 

When news of the girl's death emerged, many netizens criticized Zomato for poor regulation of cloud kitchens listed on their app. There seems to be little verification of these virtual restaurants operating from shared commercial kitchens. 

In this case, the address registered with Zomato did not match the actual location of the kitchen. Billing was also done from a different city. This raised concerns about the possibility of fraudulent activities and circulation of unhygienic food. 

People slammed Zomato because of a lack of safety standards and checks on cloud kitchens, exposing customers to serious health risks. Following the widespread criticism, Zomato quickly removed the restaurant from its app and pledged full support to the police investigation into the girl's death.

Food Safety and Standards

Food safety and standards are of utmost importance in the food industry. The recent tragic incident in Patiala, where a young girl died after consuming a birthday cake ordered online, highlights the need for stricter adherence to food safety protocols.

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), all food businesses must ensure that the food items prepared, stored, and distributed are safe for human consumption. They must obtain a license from the FSSAI and comply with regulations regarding hygiene, packaging, storage, and transportation of food items.

However, with the rapid growth of the cloud kitchen model, there are gaps in ensuring compliance, especially for small cloud kitchens operating out of residential areas. Proper verification of raw material sourcing, food handling, staff training, and infrastructure is required to avoid health hazards.

Need for stricter verification of restaurants listed on platforms

Food delivery platforms like Zomato enable access to food from different outlets. However, they must also enhance due diligence before onboarding restaurants onto their platforms.

Basic details like address verification, license checks, and hygiene audits must be mandatory. Periodic inspections and mystery audits should also be conducted to ensure listed restaurants maintain safety and quality standards over time.

Customers have the right to safe, unadulterated food. Stricter screening can help weed out illegitimate operators and hold accountable those who compromise safety. Platforms must also work closely with FSSAI and local authorities.

Recommendations for regulating the growing cloud kitchen segment

With their low setup costs and flexible operations, cloud kitchens have provided livelihood to many entrepreneurs and delivery options to customers. However, the lack of proper oversight has also enabled some unsafe operators.

Key recommendations for an effective regulatory framework include:

  • Mandatory licensing and training specifically for cloud kitchens.

  • Guidelines for infrastructure, equipment, and hygiene practices tailored to their model.

  • Restricting commercial kitchens to designated urban hubs instead of operating out of homes.

  • Emphasis on traceability - maintaining records of raw material sources and staff details for investigation purposes.

  • Regular inspections by FSSAI and municipal authorities. Strict action against violations.

  • Collaboration between government, industry, and platforms is needed to formalize this segment while ensuring safety standards are not compromised for small businesses.

Proper regulations can help the cloud kitchen industry mature responsibly without compromising food safety. The safety of consumers must be the top priority for all stakeholders.

Conclusion

A young girl sadly passed away after eating a birthday cake from an online restaurant. Zomato immediately removed the restaurant from its platform and banned the owner, showing that prompt action was important. This tragic incident highlights that all kitchens must follow strict safety and hygiene standards. Food delivery platforms also need strong controls to ensure cloud kitchens meet rules. Ensuring what we eat is safe is critical. Zomato set an example, and this sad event reminds us of the vital need for regulation and oversight to protect consumers.


FAQs

What safety checks do food delivery platforms perform?

Platforms claim verification of licenses and hygiene audits. However, they rely on self-reported details and need more rigorous on-site validations, especially as many cloud kitchens operate illegally without proper registration. Random audits and mystery shopping could help identify such cases.

Can victims/families seek legal compensation?

Under Indian law, victims can claim damages for negligence causing injury or loss of life. The family will need a strong case established through the police investigation to hold responsible parties accountable for compensation through the long legal process.

What is Zomato doing to prevent such incidents?

Zomato has stated stricter identity and location verification for all listings. It will also conduct hygiene audits at regular intervals rather than relying solely on initial checks. This is a wake-up call for the industry to establish standardized safety protocols jointly.

How can customers stay safe when ordering online?

Customers must thoroughly check restaurant details, locations, and reviews posted by previous customers. They should also be alert for any symptoms, such as others falling ill after eating at a new restaurant, and immediately report such cases to the local authorities and platforms.



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