Birthday celebration turns into tragedy as 10-year-old girl dies after eating chocolate cake in India’s Punjab

A 10-year-old girl died after eating her birthday cake in Punjab in northern India, her family has alleged.

Police are investigating the incident, which occurred after the girl’s family ordered a chocolate cake online from a bakery in Patiala city. Soon after they ate it, the entire family fell sick with symptoms of food poisoning such as nausea and vomiting.

The girl, identified as Manvi, began vomiting shortly after she had cut and eaten the cake late in the evening on 24 March, the girl’s grandfather, Harban Lal, recounted. Mr Lal said that Manvi felt thirsty and reported discomfort from dryness in her mouth.

Manvi, 10, was hospitalised the morning after eating her birthday cake and died shortly after (Rozana Spokesman / YouTube)
Manvi, 10, was hospitalised the morning after eating her birthday cake and died shortly after (Rozana Spokesman / YouTube)

She went to bed for the night but her condition worsened after she woke up the next morning. The family hurried her to a local hospital.

She was put on oxygen and underwent an electrocardiogram, a diagnostic test measuring the heart’s electrical activity, but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards, Mr Lal said.

The family alleged that the cake was contaminated and has filed a case with the police against the bakery’s owner.

Samples from the cake and the victim’s body have been sent for testing and the results are awaited, police told local media.

The family also noted that the name of the bakery on the bill and the actual shop didn’t match, suggesting it might have been a fly-by-night cloud kitchen.

Such kitchens operate with minimal infrastructure, often in small setups, to fulfil online delivery orders efficiently. They package food from a central location, offering flexibility and cost-effectiveness in their operations.

“We are also monitoring this concept of cloud kitchen because the name of the bakery kept changing in Zomato,” a local police official, Sarfaraz Alam, said.

Zomato is a food delivery app in India. The company is yet to react to the Patiala incident publicly, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The family also accused the local health department of indifference. They claimed that the first police report was made five days after Manvi’s death.

Mr Lal was quoted as saying by NDTV that “the health department officer refused to take the sample of the cake that we had ordered. The officer insisted they will take samples only from the shop where the cake was baked”.

A Zomato spokesperson said in a statement shared with The Independent: “We are heartbroken and deeply shaken up by the recent tragic incident that happened in Patiala. As soon as we learnt about the incident, which is now under police investigation, we immediately delisted the restaurant from the Zomato platform.”

The spokesperson added: “We have also debarred the restaurant owner from operating any entity on Zomato. We are extending our complete support to the law enforcement agencies in the matter.”