Following the death of a 16-year-old girl and the hospitalisation of at least 57 others due to possible food poisoning from shawarma, the Kerala High Court on Friday called for constant monitoring and enforcement of food safety standards across the State. .A Division Bench of Justices Devan Ramachandran and Sophy Thomas, while appreciating the steps taken by the Commisionerate of Food Safety, emphasised that such measures shouldn't exist only as a response to adverse incidents that resulted in death and poisoning."No doubt, the Commissionerate appears to be spurred into action on account of the death of the little girl, Devananda. But we are certain that such reactions cannot be merely in response to such horrific incidents or in the manner Pavlovian response, but must be a continuous process around the year because prevention is certainly better than prosecution," the Court said in its order..The Court stated that it intends to keep the case open so as to enable it to ensure constant monitoring and enforcement of food safety standards. "Prima facie, we believe that had the enforcement been more effective, the incident itself could have been averted particularly because the Commissioner of Food Safety says that the license of the food outlet had been refused to be renewed and they were asked not to operate. It is precisely this that this Court is intending to overview since as found earlier, a continuous monitoring process with stint emphasis on enforcement must be the norm and this should be continuously ensured," the order stated..The Court was considering a suo motu public interest litigation on the issue of food safety after reports surfaced about the death of 16-year-old Devananda and the hospitalisation of at least 57 others, possibly due to consumption of shawarma from a particular eatery in Kasargod district.The Court had previously emphasised that the enforcement of the 2006 Food Safety and Standards Act is all the more important due to the rising popularity of food items such as the shawarma, suspected to have caused the recent bout of food poisoning..During the hearing on Friday, Senior Government Pleader (GP) S Kannan, placed on record, reports of the police, medical officers and the Commissioner of Food Safety. The GP confessed that the institution which is suspected of having caused the food poisoning did not have a valid food safety licence and that they have been, in fact, directed not to continue with their operations. He then added that the Commissionerate of Food Safety has set up more than 32 squads all over the State to conduct surprise inspections, raids, etc.As regards the follow up action consequent to the horrific incident, Kannan submitted that additional special food safety squads have been constituted and that its efficiency can be seen from the fact that in the last 4 days, 500 inspections have been conducted leading to 43 food business establishments being closed down. 47 notices have been issued for compounding and 115 kg of stale meat have been destroyed with 40 other samples being collected for lab analysis, he said.The Court recorded these submissions in its order along with a suggestion that if the Health Officers of local self government bodies work in tandem with the Commissionerate of Food Safety, the effectiveness and efficiency of monitoring could be much higher. .The matter will be taken up again after two weeks.