Stricter checks for mid­day meals

Prin­ci­pals should en­sure food be­ing served is of good qual­ity, says civic of­fi­cial

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Sang­hami­tra Sen­gupta sang­hami­tra.sen­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

NAVI MUM­BAI: Af­ter more than 400 stu­dents of An­ju­man Nurool Is­lam Urdu School in Mum­bai fell ill by eat­ing cake that was served as part of the mid­day meal, the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment of the Navi Mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (NMMC), too, has been forced to look into the qual­ity of food be­ing served to stu­dents in pub­lic schools across the city.

The civic body has de­cided to put in place a num­ber of qual­ity checks to en­sure that the food be­ing served in the mid­day meal does not harm stu­dents.

In July, 23 chil­dren had died in a school in Bi­har af­ter they were served con­tam­i­nated food dur­ing the mid­day meal. Barely a fort­night later, 150 more chil­dren fell ill af­ter eat­ing mid­day meals in two other dis­tricts in the state.

“Soon af­ter the Bi­har in­ci­dent, we started tak­ing stern ac­tion to en­sure the food be­ing served is of good qual­ity. How­ever, with this in­ci­dent at the Sak­i­naka school, we are re­vis­ing the hy­giene and safety mea­sures once again, so that there is no com­pro­mise on the qual­ity of the food,” said Sudhakar Sonavane, chair­man of NMMC’s ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tee.

“We will is­sue a no­tice to prin­ci­pals of all civic schools to re­mind them of the nec­es­sary safety pre­cau­tions that must be un­der­taken,” said Sonavane.

Sonavane also said that while the ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tee was do­ing its best to keep a check on the food, the re­spon­si­bil­ity also lay with the prin­ci­pal of the schools.

“As per rules, it is manda­tory for prin­ci­pals to taste the food an hour be­fore it is served to chil­dren. We are also mak­ing sure that the food is trans­ported and served soon af­ter it is cooked and that the cooked food is stored in safe and hy­gienic places, es­pe­cially in the vicin­ity of the school,” he said.

Fur­ther, it has also been de­cided that the sweets that were ear­lier dis­trib­uted, will now be re­placed with chikki. “The sweets of­ten turn out to be stale. Hence, we have re­placed it with chikkis, which are pur­chased from an ISO reg­is­tered man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany,” said Sonavane.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, the only way to en­sure that the food be­ing served is safe, is by cook­ing it in cen­tralised kitchens. “Presently, the food is cooked in two- three dif­fer­ent places and so it is dif­fi­cult to keep

WE WILL IS­SUE A NO­TICE TO PRIN­CI­PALS OF ALL CIVIC SCHOOLS TO RE­MIND THEM OF THE NEC­ES­SARY SAFETY PRE­CAU­TIONS THAT MUST BE UN­DER­TAKEN WHILE SERV­ING THE MEALS.

SUDHAKAR SONAVANE, chair­man, ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tee

track of stan­dard mea­sures. If it is cooked in a cen­tralised kitchen, keep­ing tabs on qual­ity stan­dards will be eas­ier,” said Dr An­jana Thadani, pe­dia- tri­cian and di­rec­tor of PEHL, a non- profit that re­views the in­fra­struc­ture and mid­day meal schemes in schools across the city.

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