Report: Maas didn’t make pupils sick; school kitchens are unhygienic

2019-03-07 16:07

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A bacteriological report by Msunduzi’s Environmental Health Unit investigating a suspected food poisoning outbreak at two local schools has found that the environment in which pupils’ food was prepared was “unhygienic”. 

It does, however, eliminate the amasi fingered by parents as being the cause of the pupils’ illness.

The two schools referred to in the report are Sombonganani Primary and Mafakatini Primary.

At the time of the initial report on the matter, The Witness was unaware that children from Mafakatini Primary had allegedly also fallen ill. Attempts to get in contact with the school principal on Wednesday afternoon were unsuccessful.

In its report, which The Witness has obtained, the Msunduzi Environmental Health Unit states that all samples of maas taken for microbiological analyses “revealed satisfactory results”.

Also read: Bad food downs 170 kids

However, the report states that “Phuthu samples taken at Sombongangani Primary School revealed unsatisfactory total plate counts and total coliform counts and reasons for this are assumed to be general environmental hygiene conditions and contamination from dust and dirt”.

“Environmental swabs taken at the kitchens of both schools revealed unsatisfactory results, which indicates inadequate/insufficient cleaning of surfaces­,” the report states.

The report found that the food preparation area at Mafakatini Primary school was not compliant with the relevant regulations and was “found to be in a dirty condition”. The report also states that specimens of vomit taken from seven pupils and analysed by the National Health Laboratory Service did not show the presence of two toxins that cause food poisoning (Bacillus Cereus and Staph. Aureus).

According to the report, the unit also could not find any relationship between the foods eaten at both schools as three different brands of maas were consumed and all were found to be within their “best before” dates. The brands mentioned are Tetbury, Spring Meadow and Underberg Dairy.

Meanwhile, the unit is still awaiting the results of tests on stool samples taken from sick pupils at hospitals.

Msunduzi Municipality said they would relay the stool sample results to The Witness.

When contacted on Wednesday, Bukelani Zuma, who spoke at a meeting held at the Sombonganani Primary on Monday and identified himself as the service provider for the school’s nutrition programme, told The Witness he is not the service provider for Mafakatini Primary. Zuma, who is also an IFP councillor serving in both uMgungundlovu and Msunduzi councils, then asked that The Witness clarify that he is in fact not the owner of the company, Silungokuhle Pty Ltd, which runs the school nutrition programme at Sombonganani.

He said his 19-year-old daughter owns the company and that he spoke on her behalf at the school meeting because he feared for her safety.

Responding to the Environmental Health Unit’s findings on the unhygienic kitchen at Sombongangani, Zuma said he could not comment on the matter as it was not their responsibility as the service providers.

“The preparing of the food and the cleanliness of the kitchen is not our responsibility as the service provider. We are only tasked with providing and delivering the food. The school staff are responsible for preparing it,” said Zuma. — Witness Reporter.

Read more on:    food poisoning at school

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