Nearly 60 students of a Gurgaon-based school have fallen ill, allegedly after consuming stale meals provided by the school.
According to sources, the incident took place on Thursday at Shiv Nadar School, after several students had the breakfast and lunch served by the school.
“The school provided sandwiches stuffed with stale vegetables to students. Their lunch also tasted odd and it smelt bad,” said a source. After they reached home in the evening, many of the students complained of nausea, vomiting and high fever.
School authorities reportedly learnt about the issue after several students failed to turn up for classes on Friday morning. Some of the students who were present, as well as 10 teachers, were also found to be suffering from high fever and nausea.
“My son was fine when he got back from the school. It was only in the evening that he started feeling uneasy. He kept rushing to the washroom to vomit. He started feeling weak and we had to rush him to a nearby hospital,” said the mother of a Class 9 student. “I am very worried about my child. This level of irresponsible action is unacceptable from a reputed school “.
On Friday, many of the parents met the school authorities and took their children home. Some of the parents informed the Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon about the incident.
This prompted the district administration to take action and officials of the Food Safety Department were sent to collect samples from the school kitchen. “These samples have been sent to the state government-run laboratory in Chandigarh and the report on the ingredients is likely to be ready in 15 days. We will take action on the basis of that report,” said Food Security Officer Dinesh Sharma.
According to a senior Health Department official, prima facie it seemed that the kitchen had maintained all requisite hygiene standards. “It will be wrong to blame the ingredients for such level of contamination. If that had been the case, those who had the food on Friday would also have fallen ill. Preliminary investigations show that something could have gone wrong either while preparing the food or due to an external factor like fermentation,” the official explained.
“Since it is a private school, I have recommended that a committee be formed, comprising 3-4 parents, and they should find a way. I will implement whatever the committee recommends,” said Deputy Commissioner TL Satya Prakash. He added that had the incident taken place in a public school, the district administration would have registered a case of negligence.
In a note sent to parents, principal Monika Sagar stated, “It has been very distressing for us to hear that the students have been unwell and in pain with stomach related ailments. Most of the parents and staff have been up all night with communication flowing back and forth. Our catering team has been investigating the matter and we will get a report soon.”
A school official added, “A private caterer is responsible for operating the kitchen in the canteen. We keep a check on the quality of food and regularly get samples tested in an accredited laboratory. A committee comprising teachers also checks the food quality, before serving it to the students”.