Food poisoning or milk adulteration may not have caused illnesses in children at the Bal Anand World Children Welfare orphanage, reveals a preliminary inquiry by Food and Drug Administration(FDA) into the death of two infants and hospitalisation of four others from the adoption home.
FDA officials collected 15 samples of dal, rice, milk, and other raw materials used for cooking at the Chembur-based adoption home on December 26, the day five-month-old orphan Khushi died in Zen hospital.
The next day, nine-month-old Jaydeep died in Kohinoor hospital. Four others, aged less than a year and a half, were hospitalised. Three of them required intensive care support.
“Out of six children who took ill, only four had similar symptoms of loose-motions and vomiting,” said an FDA official. “If milk or food was adulterated or poisoned, then all children should have fallen ill. Their immunity is low at this age and adulterated food has same impact on every child,” he added.
FDA also inspected the milk pouches procured by the adoption home from Aarey Colony and found them intact, indicating no adulteration. It will submit its findings in 10 days.
FDA officials also noted that children fell ill in different time intervals. On night of December 23, a baby fell ill and started vomiting. He was admitted on December 24. On December 25, Khushi suffered from fever, and succumbed the next day. On December 26, other children fell ill and were rushed first to Zen and later to Kohinoor hospital.
“Khushi’s medical records show she was hospitalised twice in last three months. She had no symptoms of food poisoning when she died,” a food inspector said, adding, “Jaydeep’s case is however surprising. He suffered loose-motions and vomiting.” His symptoms were mirrored by three other children.
“We suspected he suffered from a gastro problem. But both the deaths may not be related to one another,” the FDA official added. Bal Anand is a privately funded adoption centre running since 1984 in Chembur. It housed 52 children before the two babies died.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation collected water samples to check for contamination. Officials at the adoption centre informed that water is filtered and boiled before children drink it.
An inquiry by the Child Welfare Committee is also underway. The orphanage cum adoption centre was served a show cause notice by the Women and Child Development department last week.