Mumbai: Midday meal causes 26 schoolkids to be hospitalised for food poisoning

Updated: Dec 14, 2017, 11:57 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Midday meal goes awry once again after 26 students get food poisoning; though discharged, parents have been told to keep a watch on their condition

And the midday meal scheme has once again caused much pain, literally. Twenty-six students of Jogeshwari's Balvikas Vidya Mandir were rushed to the nearby Kokan Hospital yesterday after they took ill on consuming the khichadi served to them under the scheme. Some were discharged in the evening after doctors said their condition was stable.

Students of Balvikas Vidya Mandir were rushed to Kokan hospital after they took ill
Students of Balvikas Vidya Mandir were rushed to Kokan hospital after they took ill 

'Tried and tested'
The 50-year-old school in Sarvodaya Nagar is a government-aided and trust-run institution, which holds classes from Stds I to X. Midday meals are served to students from Stds I to VIII. During the recess at 10 am, students were served the food. Shortly after, some students from Stds V and VII complained of stomachache and dizziness, and a few vomited. School authorities then took the children to hospital.

"We have been serving midday meals here right from the start of the scheme. Women's self-help group Chaafai Mahila Seva Sanstha, which served the khichadi today, has been providing food here since two years. As per regulation, the food was even tasted by a teacher before being served to students. We are all shocked with the incident," said Sahadeo Sawant, a member of the trust Ratnagiri Maratha Dyani Samaj, which runs the Marathi medium school.

Many parents alleged that initially the school authorities didn't allow them to see their kids and asked them to communicate with them via video-conferencing. Supriya Salvi, a resident of Durga Nagar whose son studies in Std VII, said, "Around noon, we received the call... We rushed to the school, but authorities said they would let us see our children via a video call. There was a teacher at the hospital to facilitate this. It was only after some of us protested against this bizarreness that they let us go to the hospital."

Parents have been told to keep a close watch on their kids and re-visit the hospital if they vomit or feel dizzy again. Another parent, Pooja Dalvi whose daughter studies in Std V, said, "My daughter has been in this school since Std I and nothing like this has happened before. While the incident was shocking, the whole video call plan was just crazy."

Authority speak
Mahesh Palkar, education officer at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which looks after the midday meal scheme, said, "We have sent a team to visit the school and take a review. The school will have to submit a report on the entire incident. Food samples have been collected for testing to identify the cause or to understand if the food was already spoilt. After a thorough inquiry, appropriate action will be taken." DCP (zone X) Navinchandra Reddy said, "The Meghwadi police are conducting an investigation in the matter, after which an offence will be registered and appropriate action will be taken."

Director of the hospital, Dilshad Lashkaria, said, "Initial complaints were of food poisoning after eating the khichadi; the students were vomiting, had stomachache and burning sensation. By late evening, we discharged 21; the rest are stable and undergoing treatment." "Following the regular practice, samples of the food have been collected. After it goes through testing, a decision will be taken on what action is needed," said state FDA Commissioner Pallavi Darade.

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