In less than a week’s time at two separate India schools, police said yesterday, they believe that children have been poisoned by their school lunches. At least 23 students in the southwestern coastal state of Goa were treated at a hospital after they got sick at lunch, authorities said.
The students, in the third to fifth grades at St. Joseph School, have been released from treatment, Vishram Borkar, a police superintendent in Goa, told CNN. St. Joseph School is a government-aided private institution, he said. “We have registered a case of food poisoning,” he told CNN, “and our investigation is on.”
Earlier this week, 23 students died and 25 people were hospitalized from food poisoning after a school lunch in northern India’s Bihar state.
There were two cooks at the Bihar school, an official told CNN. Two children of one of them — Panna Devi — ate the toxic food and have died, medical superintendent Amarkant Jha Amar told CNN. Panna Devi is not receiving treatment because she didn’t eat the toxic food, Amar said. She has a third child who ate the food and is improving at a hospital, the medical chief said.
The other cook, Manju Devi, is also hospitalized, along with her three children, Amar added. Earlier, CNN-IBN had reported that two of Manju Devi’s children had died.
Bihar state is one of India’s poorest. Experts have said the deaths shine a light on food safety in the country and have prompted discussion on how to improve national school food programs amid news that authorities warned of safety problems with Bihar’s school meal program months ago.
Yesterday, authorities in Bihar announced that a new committee would be formed to strengthen food preparation in rural schools.
The state’s mid-day meal director, R. Lakshmanan, said village communities will also help monitor standards of meals for schoolchildren. The Bihar students, who authorities said were between the ages of 5 and 12, started vomiting soon after their first bite of lunch.
Some fainted. The parents of at least three children have buried their lost ones near the school — one right in front of the building, according to CNN journalists who saw the burial mounds. An official told CNN that the parents did so out of protest.