The suspected incident of food poisoning at Government Urdu Model Higher Primary School at DJ Halli on Friday has brought to the fore the hygiene practices followed by non-profit organisations while preparing food for thousands of schoolchildren.
Vinay Kumar, General Manager (Operations), Akshaya Patra Foundation, asserted that his organisation, which had supplied food to the DJ Halli school, followed an “internal standard of quality” that had been tested by multiple authorities of government as well as private entities.
According to S Jayakumar, former Joint Director of Public Instruction, Midday Meals Scheme, NGOs should make sure the food is stored in tight containers and transported carefully in closed vehicles. Teachers and helpers appointed in each school to ensure food safety have to make sure the surroundings are clean before the meals are served, he added.
In the aftermath of the midday meal tragedy at Chhapra in Bihar in July last year, the Karnataka government had announced a number of safety and precautionary measures to be put in place while serving and preparing food in government schools.
Vedavyas Bhat, trustee of Adamya Chetana, another organisation that serves midday meals to schools in the State, said that after the Bihar incident, the government was paying more attention to monitoring safety measures followed by NGOs.
“Prior to the incident, government officials would visit our kitchens once in a while. Their visits became more frequent after the Bihar incident,” he said.
Rice mixed with sambar
A non-teaching staff member of the DJ Halli school said that food would arrive at the institution in seven cans at noon and served to students half an hour later.
Occasionally rice and sambar would come in separate containers but most of the time rice would be mixed with sambar.
“On Wednesday, the containers carried rice mixed with sambar. When it was served to students of Class 8, some of them began vomiting and it was suspected that a lizard was found in the food. We immediately called an ambulance and took the students to hospital,” the person told Deccan Herald.