Limpopo school food contracts cancelled after poisoning

2014-11-06 20:32

The contracts of two companies supplying food to schools in Limpopo have been terminated, says the department of basic education.

“Contracts have been terminated with immediate effect for the companies implicated in the food contamination that resulted in learners being hospitalised in Limpopo,” said department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga today.

“The Limpopo department of education, supported by the department of basic education served the letters of termination earlier today [Thursday] to two companies and another was given a warning to improve its service.”

Pupils have been hospitalised after eating school lunches tainted with crushed glass and stones. They suffered diarrhoea, dizziness, vomiting and cramps. They were admitted to hospitals and local clinics where they were treated and discharged.

Mhlanga said the contracts of Dingatana and Amandla Karabo were terminated after the department conducted several investigations into the allegations of food contamination and paid unannounced visits to the suppliers’ warehouses to conduct in loco inspections in each of the warehouses.

“The investigation established that Amandla Karabo failed to comply with stated requirements and standards, both in terms of the quality of the foodstuffs delivered to schools and the condition of their warehouse. The monitoring team strongly recommended that Amandla Karabo be released with immediate effect from the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in Limpopo,” he said.

“The monitoring team recommended that Dingatana’s involvement in the NSNP in Limpopo should be discontinued with immediate effect after several attempts failed to locate the company director and its physical address for inspection.”

Mhlanga said the department would also involve SA Police Service to conduct an investigation into allegations with a view to laying criminal charges.

He said the department would introduce additional monitoring measures with school-based monitors to report daily on the implementation of the programme.

“The NSNP monitoring system is being reviewed to tighten critical stages of food supply chain, and to solicit the support of the department of health and local municipality.

“Relations will be strengthened with the health environmental practitioners in Limpopo to draw lessons and replicate a process of establishing checks and balances on monitoring suppliers in all provinces.”

In North West the department was waiting for laboratory results after pupils at Koster fell sick.

“In North West investigations continue. We are waiting for laboratory results,” he said.

Ninety-one pupils were taken to hospital for suspected food poisoning. They complained of headaches, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting, after eating at school. Food samples and water from the school were taken for laboratory tests.

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