Fatal Indian school meal contained concentrated pesticide

Posted on July 21, 2013 by

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According to NBC News, the free school lunch that killed 23 Indian children last week was contaminated with concentrated pesticide which is not widely available, the district magistrate overseeing the police investigation told Reuters on Sunday.

The children fell ill within minutes of eating a meal of rice and potato curry in their one-room school in Bihar state on Tuesday, vomiting and convulsing with stomach cramps.

The deaths sparked protests in Bihar. The lunch was part of India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme that covers 120 million children and aims to tackle malnutrition and encourage school attendance. It had already drawn widespread complaints over food safety.

The pesticide found in the oil was of a concentration more than five times that used in a commercial version, according to a forensic report.

“It is highly poisonous, it’s highly toxic, and, therefore, it has to be diluted when used as commercial pesticides,” said district magistrate Abhijit Sinha.

“Typically it has to be diluted five times. So one liter of monocrotophos is mixed with five liters of water.”

Police said on Friday they suspected the cooking oil used in the meal was kept in a container previously used to store the pesticide.

 

Posted in: Family safety