887 children taken ill after midday meals in three years: Government

Union Minister and RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha on midday meals

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) As many as 887 children were taken ill after consuming midday meals across the country in the last three years and 30 complaints were received against the poor quality of such meals, the Centre informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

“The government has issued guidelines to all states and Union Territories on the food quality, safety and hygiene in school-level kitchens to redress the situation,” Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Upendra Kushwaha said in a written reply.

These guidelines include instructions to schools to procure Agmark quality/branded raw items for preparation of midday meals, tasting of meals by 2-3 adult members of School Management Committees, including at least one teacher, before serving to children and to put in place a system of testing of food samples by accredited laboratories.

Further, the Midday Meals Rules, 2015, provide for mandatory testing of food samples by government-recognised laboratories to ensure that the meals meet nutritional standards and quality, he said.

The government has also adopted an elaborate monitoring mechanism at the central, state and district levels to ensure that quality food is served to children.

“A total 30 complaints from 15 states and UTs, including Delhi, regarding poor quality of meals was reported in the last three years. A total of 887 children were reported ill after having midday meals in the same period across the country,” Kushwaha said.

In 2018, 29 children fell ill in Delhi while nine fell ill in 2017.

The other states where children fell ill after eating midday meals include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, according to the reply.

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