New Delhi – School principals and cooks in northeastern India’s Bihar state have been ordered to taste food before it is served to pupils, after 23 children died of poisoning from school meals.
The children at the primary school in the state’s Saran district fell ill yesterday after eating the midday meal served at all government schools in India to tackle malnutrition and encourage attendance.
Preliminary investigations indicated that the container used for cooking may have been earlier used to store insecticide, Saran District Magistrate Abhijit Sinha said.
“Traces of an organo-phosphoric compound have been found and we are awaiting results of forensic tests,” Sinha said. “The food was contaminated; we are trying to find out how.”
The Bihar government issued a notice in all local newspapers ordering principals and cooks at state-run schools to taste meals before serving them to children.
“Strict action will be taken against those who do not follow this rule,” the advertisement in Hindi said.
Police have filed charges against the principal of the Saran school and her husband, who ran a store that supplied groceries to the school. Both were reported to have fled.
“No arrests have been made yet,” Sinha said.
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