The special drive was conducted from February 7 to 17 as nine students of a government school were taken ill last month after consuming lunch that had a dead rat in it.
1 Over the years, there have been reports of children suffering from food-poisoning.
2 According to sources, rats cannot reach inside the kitchen and this involves foul play.
3 Last week, the NHRC had issued a notice to the Delhi government over the matter.
The city’s food department is puzzled by the stellar report card of 40 schools in hygiene and cleanliness tests on their mid-day meal programme as nine students of a government school were taken ill last month after consuming the lunch that had a dead rat in it.
The special drive was conducted from February 7 to 17 while the incident at the Government Boys’ Senior Secondary School in southeast Delhi’s Deoli was reported on the final day of the inspection.
The free meals are provided in schools across the country to encourage poor parents to send their children to study. However, over the years, there have been reports of lizards, snakes and worms in the meals, and of children suffering from food-poisoning.
“We feel there’s something suspicious about the rat incident,” said sources in the department. “Even if the food was unhygienic, the inspectors could have identified it easily. Even after the incident, the department has again conducted surprise checks in 71 schools, which again cleared all the hygiene and cleanliness tests.”
FOUL PLAY INVOLVED?
Rats cannot reach inside the kitchen where extremely hot vessels are kept and this involves foul play, the sources said.
Delhi has a centralised kitchen system for mid-day meals unlike several other states where the food is cooked in individual schools.
“All the legal samples before and after the grim incident of February 17 have cleared the hygiene and cleanliness standards under Schedule 1V as per provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. As food commissioner, I can certify that mid-day meal in Delhi schools is perfectly fine,” city food commissioner Dr Mrinalini Darswal told Mail Today.
The school lunch scheme is the largest such programme in the world and has been widely lauded as one of the most-successful welfare measures in India.
95 % OF 365 MEAL SAMPLES FAILED TO MEET NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
The Delhi government lodged an FIR against the mid-day meal supplier following the February 17 incident. Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia tweeted: “Such irresponsibility in case of children will not be tolerated.”
Last week, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had issued a notice to the Delhi government over the matter, seeking a report within four weeks including details of the action taken against the agencies concerned.
About 43 NGOs are catering to the mid-day meal requirements of 18.46 lakh students in schools run by the Delhi government.
According to an NHRC report, 95 per cent of 365 meal samples failed to meet nutritional requirements in 2011-12 and 98 per cent of 322 samples failed the tests in 2010-11.