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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Move to ensure food safety, hygiene in schools – Mrit News

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Repeated instances of food poisoning, which occurred in consecutive days at Kayamkulam and Kottarakkara, possibly in connection with the mid-day meals provided in schools and anganwadis, have made the government move swiftly to ensure that hygiene and food safety norms are observed strictly in schools.

A high-level meeting called by the General Education and Civil Supplies departments on Sunday decided to hold joint inspections of all school kitchens and surroundings with the officials of Food Safety and Health departments in the next few days.

Apart from awareness classes on food safety and hygiene to students and schools staff, the cooks and helpers in schools will be given special orientation on how food safety and hygiene standards are to be maintained, especially when mass meals are cooked.

Fridays will be observed as dry days in schools when water tanks and drinking water sources and surroundings will be kept clean to ensure that vector breeding sites are eliminated.

Even though a clear link between the food poisoning incidents in the past two days to school meals are yet to be established (sample results from labs are yet to be released), contamination of water sources could be a possibility, Health officials said.

As schools had been closed for over two years following COVID-19, cleaning of water tanks and other water sources in schools assume paramount importance to prevent contamination.

Thus an important decision taken at the meeting was to inspect the drinking water sources in all schools in the State within a week, with the help of Kerala Water Authority.

In districts, noon feeding supervisors and sub-district noon meal officers will visit schools from Monday and inspect the school kitchens, vessels used in the kitchen, water tanks, toilets, storage area and food stock.

Norovirus outbreak

Meanwhile, the Health department has confirmed the possible outbreak of Norovirus infection at Vizhinjam, where the virus was detected in the stool samples of two schoolchildren who had been treated for fever and diarrhoea at the local community health centre.

There were reports that more children with similar symptoms had come for treatment. A statement by the Health department said that water samples had been collected from the locality for testing and that control measures had been initiated.

While the virus causes acute diarrhoeal gastroenteritis in children and adults, the outbreaks are rarely serious. However, the outbreak can spread fast if proper precautions are not taken and mass infections can occur. Contaminated water or food is the usual infective agent and the virus spreads through the faecal-oral route, either through the direct consumption of contaminated food or through the careless handling of food by an infected person or care giver.

The prevention is thus routed in good hygiene, Health officials said.

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