Nearly 100 Indian children have been taken to hospital with suspected food poisoning after eating a free meal at a government-run school near Mumbai, police said, adding that some were in a critical condition.
“Ninety-seven have been admitted to hospital; a few of them are critical. They started vomiting after eating their midday meal,” said Shrikrishna Kokate, deputy police chief of Palghar district in the western state of Maharashtra.
“We have sent teams to the school to take samples. It looks to be a case of food poisoning,” Kokate said, adding that the pupils were aged between six and 14.
The government’s midday meal programme is the world’s largest, feeding 120 million children daily. For many, it is their only substantial meal.
But the scheme is hampered by corruption and inefficiency. Students often fall sick after eating contaminated and poorly prepared food. In 2013 about two dozen children died in an impoverished district of Bihar after they ate a meal laced with pesticide. May the Lord heal them.