x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Prosecutors say unhygenic food storage led to children's deaths

The unhygienic storage of food by restaurant staff led to the deaths of two young children from food poisoning last year, public prosecutors claim.

DUBAI // The unhygienic storage of food by restaurant staff led to the deaths of two young children from food poisoning last year, public prosecutors claimed yesterday.  The case surrounding Nathan and Chelsea D'Souza, came before judges in Dubai yesterday. They died in June, aged five and seven respectively, after eating takeaway food from a Chinese restaurant in Al Qusais.

But the hearing was adjourned after a chef and a restaurant manager charged with breaching hygiene standards failed to appear at the Dubai Misdemeanours Court. Meanwhile, the children's father, Patrick D'Souza, said the family was still "struggling" with their loss. The Nepalese cook, T R, 26, and his Filipino supervisor, E S, 34, were charged on March 1, along with the Lotus Garden restaurant where they both worked. A female doctor, E T, 47, who worked at the New Medical Centre (NMC) hospital is also accused of medical negligence in the case. They deny the charges against them.

No evidence was heard yesterday and the case was adjourned to April 5. Prosecutors claim that the meal the children consumed from the Lotus Garden contained harmful bacteria after T R and E S stored the ingredients unhygienically. E T, who examined Nathan and Chelsea on the evening they were taken ill, is accused of medical negligence which led to their deaths. The restaurant, which denies any wrongdoing, was initially closed down but Dubai Municipality allowed it to reopen three months later.

The restaurant's management said in a written statement yesterday: "As far as we know, we don't have any notice or letter from Dubai Municipality that our food is contaminated, nor our cook and supervisor did unhygienic practice." The statement said that the restaurant had a copy of a laboratory report from Germany that says food poisoning did not kill the children and that they believe they would not have been allowed to reopen if Dubai Municipality was aware of contamination.

Mr D'Souza told The National yesterday: "My children did die of food poisoning. People responsible for it should be made accountable. Had my children got the right medical attention, they would be here with me today.  "We will not go to future hearings. What good is it going to do? We are not going to get them back. We are still struggling to cope with our lives. We have to move on." BR Shetty, managing director and chief executive of NMC hospital, said yesterday: "We dealt privately with the doctor concerned a long time back. She is no longer employed by the NMC group."

Dubai Municipality refused to comment on their investigation other than to say they had submitted their report to the police. * additional reporting by Mitya Underwood