The trinidad Guardian / Two Tobago schools had to be dismissed early on Tuesday, after several students complained of feeling unwell after consuming lunches supplied by the School Feeding Programme.
T&T Guardian understands that students from the Belle Garden Anglican Primary and Roxborough Secondary Schools had to be rushed to the Scarborough General Hospital, while others were taken to walk-in clinics in their districts for treatment, where food poisoning was confirmed. The students fell ill after consuming a meal of curried chicken and rice with channa. Some of the students had complained of getting a bad odour from the lunches before consuming them.
In a release yesterday, the Tobago House of Assembly’s Division of Education, Innovation and Energy said officers were sent to the affected schools and reported that at least five students appeared to have been affected by the meal supplied. It said the incident was taken very seriously because “the safety of our food and well-being of our students are always high priority”
The T&T Guardian understands the caterer, who supplies over 5000 meals across Tobago, met with THA officials yesterday but still continued distribution of meals yesterday.
In a release after this meeting, the division said they were taking steps to review all processes and procedures leading up to the unfortunate incident.
“While no cause has as yet been identified, the division continues to work swiftly and thoroughly in conjunction with health department officials, in an effort to conclude this investigation,” it said.
Commenting on the incident, Tobago Regional PTA present Denise Nelson-Frank called for stringent monitoring systems to be put in place for service providers.
“We know that there are different caterers involved in school feeding and we think that it is important for there to be proper monitoring of what happened with the different service providers. So we want to ensure that we look at the way the raw materials they use to prepare to food is secured, so the storage of the food, the areas they prepare the food in, how the cooked food is stored and delivered to the students. We also want to ensure that there is random testing of the food, so that problems can be identified before the children actually consume the meal,” she said.
She also called for the caterer in question to be isolated until the investigation was competed
“We would hope that the persons in charge of monitoring what happens in the system would have isolated the person who would have provided the meals for the schools affected and dealt with that specific caterer or caterers, because it was not an islandwide problem,” she said.