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Free mid-day meal horror spreads
By Nirmala Joseph/Agencies July 19, 2013
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CHENNAI: Nearly 160 girl students have taken ill after consuming their free noon meal at a school in Tamil Nadu’s (TN) Neyveli, a day after toxic noon meal killed 23 children in Bihar.

Similar cases are reported in Odisha, Delhi and Maharasthra too.

According to IANS, 21 students were admitted to hospitals and 200 others complained of illness after they were allegedly given folic acid and iron supplements at Delhi-government-run schools under a newly launched central scheme in national capital.

Almost all the students, who were admitted to seven different hospitals on Wednesday, were discharged on Thursday.

PTI reports that in Maharashtra, at least 34 students, including 13 girls, of a tribal ashram school at a village in Dhule district fell ill after consuming contaminated water, police said.

Water was supplied by a tanker to the Kasturabai adivasi ashram school at Tavkheda village and the students after drinking it started vomitting and complained of diarrhoea on the night of July 16.

Some of the children, who were between 8 and 12 years were admitted to hospital. The condition of all the students was stated to be improving.

In Odisha, at least 12 students—aged between 7 and 15 years—fell sick after taking food at a government-aided hostel for poor students in Nilagiri area in Balasore district in east India, officials said, according to PTI.

Meanwhile in TN, thirteen of the students remained in hospital in a bad condition on Thursday evening while over 100 were under observation, officials said.

The 13 were administered drip and the remaining students were given tablets.

However, doctors at the NLC General Hospital, reached on the phone, said the children were out of danger.

The doctors cited a symptom of “food infection.”

Eggs are suspected to be the villain in Thursday’s incident.

Officials also said the hot lunch served to them was most likely “contaminated.”

The children are between the age of nine and 16, officials in Chennai said.

They are students of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation Girls School in the Neyveli Township in Cuddalore district.

Officials said the girls complained of giddiness, abdominal pain and nausea soon after they had their lunch. Some of them even fainted.

The food inspector is inspecting the food served and the kitchen where the meal was prepared. The school remained closed in the afternoon on Thursday.

Tamil Nadu has a free noon meal scheme dating back to 1925, perhaps the oldest in India.

This is the first time a problem like this has happened in the state. Eggs were added to the noon meal after the present government led by J. Jayalalithaa took over.

She then went on to say that the purpose was to “break the monotony” of the menu that dated back 30 years, when then chief minister and her mentor MG Ramachandran brought in a new menu.

Jayalalithaa then introduced “channa biryani” and “egg pepper masala” in schools in her Srirangam constituency.

With a positive response, she then introduced 13 varities of rice and egg masala as a regular. According to her plan, the menu has to be a separate one each day.

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