The day after hundreds of its students got food poisoning within minutes of consuming cupcakes doled out for a midday meal, Anjuman Noorul Islam Trust School in Sakinaka remained close yesterday (‘Cupcake treat at midday meal lands 341 students in hospital’ MiD DAY, November 26). Most of the students didn’t turn up for their classes, claimed school officials. Alfala bakery, from where the cakes had been sourced, also had its shutters down all day, while its owner Kasimali Rashidali Ansari stayed in police custody.
Meanwhile, a majority of the students who had been admitted to different suburban hospitals for treatment have been discharged. However, some students were still admitted in Apex Hospital, Sant Muktabai Hospital and Paramount Hospital late last evening, still experiencing symptoms like abdominal pain and nausea. In fact, some students even came to the hospital last morning for treatment, and were admitted.
An official from the school said, “The kids are in trauma and didn’t turn up today. They will definitely come to school tomorrow. The midday meal will not be provided till the education officials give us permission.” At Alfala, an employee Zuber Ansari revealed that the establishment would remain closed till the owner resumes work, and confirmed that samples of the cake that caused the illness had been sent to FDA for examination. The bakery is located in a slum, tucked away in a narrow lane in Feetwala Compound, Kurla (West).
Ansari added, “About 115 packets of cupcakes were taken away by a salesman from our bakery on Sunday between 9 am and 10 am he supplies them to the NGO. We don’t have direct contact with the NGO. The cakes were in good condition. They don’t spoil for at least a month after manufacture. We don’t know how they went bad or what caused the children to fall ill.”
Dr Utkarsh Angachekar, head of Paramount hospital, said, “All the children who were admitted from Anjuman School yesterday for food poisoning have been discharged, barring three who were complaining of restlessness and unease. We may discharge them today as the uneasiness could be psychological, what with the trauma they went through yesterday.”
Dr Aparna Gangurde, AMO from Sant Muktabai Hospital in Ghatkopar, said, “Out of 59 children brought yesterday, one is receiving treatment and five more were admitted this morning. They will be kept under observation.” Dr Farooq Shaikh, owner of Apex Hospital, said, “Out of the 125 students who were given injections, 15 were admitted. Of them, only two kids are still in hospital complaining of abdominal pain and nausea. They may get discharged tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, the four accused arrested from the bakery and the NGO that supplied the cakes are in police custody. PSI Sandip Chavan from Sakinaka police station said, “All four accused were presented this morning at Andheri court. They will be kept in police custody till November 30.” Manoj Kotak, education committee chairman, said, “In the BMC meeting held today, we have ordered to suspend the zonal supervisor who was supposed to know what the school is providing in midday meals.
Also, we have recommended the suspension of the school’s principal, as he did not taste the cake. Neither did he take any permission to distribute dry food in the midday meal scheme. Now, the trust will decide on our recommendation. After the Bihar food poisoning case, the BMC had instructed all school principals to taste the mid-day meals before distributing them to the students half an hour later.”