Supplier denies tainted food caused pupils’ illness

2015-03-31 00:00

THE proprietor of a Richmond school feeding scheme has rubbished claims that a meal provided on Friday caused over 50 pupils to fall ill.

Medical staff had speculated at the weekend that tainted food may have caused the sudden wave of illness.

Makhosi Ndlovu, the director of Makhosi-Kuwe Trading, the company responsible for supplying meals to Esimozomeni Primary School children under the Education Department’s feeding scheme, told The Witness that the food she supplied was of good quality.

This comes after 56 children at the school in Richmond took ill with suspected food poisoning on Friday. They were rushed to a nearby clinic, some in serious condition.

The children have since been released from clinics and hospitals.

Ndlovu, who is from Richmond, said she called her employees to keep the food and the containers used to prepare the food so they could be analysed; however, the food was finished and the containers had been cleaned.

She was certain, however, that the food supplied — fish and rice — was not to blame.

“It was not the food, because even children who had not eaten that day took ill.”

This version was independently confirmed by two children who became ill after drinking just water.

Ndlovu said, “The food I supplied was of good quality and had not expired. The expiry dates are a long way off. It was rice and fish, the same food I gave to eight other schools in that area that day.”

She said she suspects that something else could have caused the children to fall ill. “We were there [at the school] today and one of the children just took ill. The child had not eaten any food, because I said there should be no cooking [yesterday].

“The school does not have good facilities; there are no places for children to wash their hands and this could be related to hygiene.”

Ndlovu said, “I have been doing this [supplying food] since 2010 and this is something that has never happened before. I supply the schools in this area and my relatives’ children go to that school and eat the same food.”

The Witness visited the school yesterday and found it operational.

Two parents said they still did not know what had caused the children to fall ill.

“Fortunately my child did not get sick on Friday, but I am still worried that she might get a running stomach.”

Another parent said her children were released the day they took ill. “They had stomach pains and were taken to hospital, but they came back home the same afternoon.”

She said it was still not clear why the children had fallen ill. “There are different stories about what happened there. My children did not eat the food, but they drank water and they somehow became ill.”

Attempts to get comment from the Department of Education were unsuccessful.

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