“I had bought a packet of toffees from a nearby store to distribute among my classmates, as it was my birthday. After handing out the chocolates, I realised that I was falling short and hence requested my teacher if I could go and buy another packet.
However, halfway down the corridor, I was stopped by my teacher who told me that my classmates who had consumed the chocolate had started to vomit, and a few were feeling giddy as well.
I never thought my birthday celebrations would turn out so bad that my classmates would have to be hospitalised.” These were the words of 14-year-old Ankita Tare (name changed), who celebrated her birthday in school for the first time yesterday.
Nineteen students studying in Std IX of Sanketh Vidyalaya in Manpada, Thane, were hospitalised after developing symptoms of food poisoning, following the consumption of toffees distributed to them by Tare. The students complained of nausea and giddiness immediately after eating a toffee named Valentino, following which they were rushed to a nearby hospital. After they were provided medical treatment, the students are now reportedly stable and out of danger, said doctors treating them.
The incident took place in the first period of school proceedings. “After our morning prayers, one of my classmates distributed the sweets to us, as it was her birthday. While some of us consumed it instantly, others tucked it into their bags. Those of us who ate the chocolate started feeling nauseous and dizzy. Our teachers realised that something was wrong and rushed us to the hospital immediately,” said Malathy Gaikwad, one of the students taken to hospital . Some students also said that they felt the toffee was too bitter.
“Most of the times we eat the chocolate immediately when any of our classmates distribute them on their birthday. We did the same today, but started feeling sick soon after,” said Archana Kamble, another student.
Parents of the students who were admitted to Thane’s Titan Hospital were notified of the incident immediately. Akhatai Khade, mother of Bhavesh who had also consumed the sweet, said she received a call from the school, informing her of the incident. “I was shaken as I did not understand what had happened to my son, but thankfully he is stable, after being given saline solution intravenously,” said Khade.
Doctors treating the affected patients said that four students were treated on OPD basis while 15 others were admitted to the hospital. Dr Anil Ghagare, administrator of the hospital, said that the students showed signs of food contamination and hence paediatricians at the hospital started the required line of action.
Dr R T Kendre, medical officer of health, Thane Municipal Corporation, who was present at the spot, said that they have notified the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the incident, asking them to stop manufacture of the chocolate immediately. “The toffee samples have been seized and will be sent to the chemical analysis laboratory in Pune or Mumbai. The students are stable now and will be kept under observation for a while,” said Dr Kendre.
The birthday girl’s mother said that although her daughter did not fall ill as she didn’t consume the chocolates, she was saddened by the unfortunate incident.
“I immediately rushed to the school after the incident. However, the teachers assured me that the situation was under control,” said Tare’s mother, adding that her daughter was traumatised by the entire incident