Thiruvananthapuram: Many lassi lovers in Kerala, who have been gulping their favourite drink in copious quantities as temperatures soared over the past two months, are now hoping that they will not fall sick soon.

A raid by the health department authorities in the state’s business capital, Kochi, has found one of the larger lassi-making plants operating in extremely unhygienic conditions, prompting them to shut the unit down.

Lassi is a yoghurt-based traditional Indian drink, which is sometimes served with fruits or flavoured with spices.

It is one of the best-selling drinks during the summer season.

The food safety officials themselves were in for a shock when they raided a lassi-making unit at Karukapally, where they found large quantities of lassi kept in open buckets, with water drawn straight from toilet faucets.

To add to the gut-churning scenes, there were maggots creeping on the floor, and dog stool in a corner of the building. To add to their shock, they also found artificial powders that were used to make lassi.

This was one of the centres in Kochi where lassi was being made to be distributed through numerous retail outlets in the city, where unsuspecting consumers have been gulping the attractive, white-and-foamy drink.

Ironically, the discovery of the unhygienic conditions in which lassi was made, happened when officials of the state Goods and Services Tax enforcement department made a visit to the unit, suspicious of the mushrooming of lassi outlets in the city whose operations are not reflecting in the tax database.

Acting on their information, food safety officials visited the unit and sealed it, promising stringent action against such units that flouted food safety rules.

On Thursday, Youth Congress activists marched to the controversial lassi-making unit and pelted stones at it. They blamed the authorities for not having acted against such outlets.

The standing committee on health of the Kochi Corporation has directed the corporation secretary to prepare a report on all juice-vending outlets in the city. There will also be an inspection to determine if juice shops in the city have proper licences.