At Least 22 Children Die After Eating Contaminated Free School Lunch In India

Within hours of eating a free school lunch apparently contaminated with a deadly insecticide, at least 22 children were dead and dozens of others hospitalized in the northeastern Indian state of Bihar on Tuesday, the New York Times reports (Harris/Kumar, 7/17). “The focus of the investigation is on the oil used in the preparation of the meal,” Reuters writes, adding, “Doctors treating the children said they suspected the food had been contaminated with insecticide. Media reports said the oil may have been stored in an old pesticide container” (Banerji/Colvin, 7/18). “India’s midday meal scheme is one of the world’s biggest school nutrition programs,” covering 120 million children, the Associated Press notes. The free meal program is “part of an effort to address concerns about malnutrition, which the government says nearly half of all Indian children suffer from,” the news agency writes, adding, “Although there have been occasional complaints about the quality of the food served, or the lack of hygiene, the tragedy in Bihar appeared to be unprecedented for the massive food program” (Singh, 7/17).