Stricter checks for midday meals
Principals should ensure food being served is of good quality, says civic official
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.