Things just don't seem to be getting better at government schools, as far as mid-day meals are concerned.
As many as three samples of rice served in mid-day meal have failed laboratory tests and were found unfit for human consumption.
A team of health department had collected the samples from Government High School, Jamalpur Avana; Government Senior Secondary School, Sekhewal; and Government Primary School, Taraf Karabara, on May 29.
The rice was prepared in the centralised kitchen. Out of three samples, two were of boiled rice, while one was uncooked. While the cooked rice was found unfit for human consumption, the sample of uncooked rice was declared of substandard quality.
This is not the first time a sample of mid-day meal has failed tests. Earlier, a sample of curry collected from Government Middle School, New Subhash Nagar, had failed tests on May 29. The potatoes used in the curry were found unfit for human consumption. The schoolchildren had complained of finding pests in the rice and that the curry was not of good quality.
According to the Food Safety and Standards Act, if a sample is found to be of substandard quality, then there is a provision of fine, but if the sample is unsafe, there is provision of both fine and imprisonment.
Talking to Hindustan Times, district health officer, Abnash Kumar said three samples collected on May 29 had failed and two of them had been found unfit for human consumption, while one was of substandard quality.
Ludhiana deputy commissioner Rahul Tewari said, “We will send the report to the director general secondary education (DGSE) office in Chandigarh and the final decision on further action will be taken by them. The authorities at Chandigarh office will decide if the contractor's licence would be cancelled or he would be given a warning.”
As many as six cases of unfit mid-day meals being served to government schoolchildren have come to the fore in the past six months in the district.
It is pertinent to mention that a medical officer and a schoolteacher are deputed at the centralised mid-day meal kitchen at Sherpur to ensure that good quality food is being prepared in hygienic conditions for students. However, still six cases of stale and insect-infested mid-day meals were reported.
The centralised kitchen concept to prepare mid-day meals was started on November 16, 2012, to serve food in 150 government primary and upper primary schools in the city. In Ludhiana district, there are 1.79 lakh students, of which 35,000 students in Ludhiana city are served meals cooked in centralised kitchens.