School meals suspended after hundreds more students treated for food poisoning in Egypt

Ahram Online , Wednesday 22 Mar 2017

File Photo: Students attend class on the first day of their new school year at a government school in Giza, south of Cairo, September 22, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Education minister Tarek Shawki told state TV on Wedensday evening that the ministry has halted the provision of meals to students at schools nationwide until the cause has been determined after the food poisoning of around 400 students in government-run schools in several governorates earlier, the latest in a series of cases of suspected mass poisoning from school meals.

The health ministry said in a statement that 312 students were hospitalized in the governorates of Cairo, Suez and Aswan.

The minister said the Cabinet is meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue.

Al-Ahram Arabic said the provincial governor of Aswan ordered earlier today a halt to the distribution of meals at all schools in the governorate.

State news agency MENA reported that 24 students were sent to hospital after suffering stomach aches, vomiting and fever in the Nile Delta governorate of Menoufiya, while 48 students in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Beni Suef were hospitalised with similar symptoms.

Wednesday's incidents are the lastest in a series of cases of suspected large-scale food poisoning to hit state-run schools in several parts of the country this month.

More than 3,300 students became ill and experienced similar symptoms last week after consuming school meals, according to information released by the Egyptian cabinet. The incidents prompted President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to set up an impromptu committee to determine the cause.

In place for decades, Egypt's state-run National School Feeding Programme (NSFP) covers 13.5 million students and costs the government EGP957 million, according to the World Food Programme, which has been supporting the scheme since 1968.

Last year, the government launched a plan to scale up the programme to reach all government-run schools.  

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