BHOPAL: The mid-day meals in two government schools of Madhya Pradesh's Khandwa district were allegedly cooked in animal fat for students. The incident has been reported from Pethiya village which is part of Machauri Raiyat village panchayat in Harsud area.
A self-help group (SHG) Bismillah Swayamshayata Samuh operated by middle-aged woman Shanno (she is also the cook of MDM) had been tasked since last few years with preparing MDM to students at a primary school and a middle school with 100-plus students.
A food department team which inspected the MDM at the two schools in Pethiya village on Thursday allegedly spotted that the meal wasn’t being cooked in the room allocated for that purpose in the school premises. Instead the MDM was being prepared by Shanno in her house since a fortnight.
Also, the inspection revealed that instead of cooking the stipulated Pulao and Karhi for the students, the SHG head and MDM cook Shanno had cooked Pulao (preparation from rice and boiled potatoes) only for the students of the two schools.
Further inspection of the place where Shanno was cooking the MDM in her house, led the food department team to a steel box containing animal fat, which is suspected to have been used for cooking the MDM for school students – in violation of norms which make it mandatory for MDM to be cooked in edible oil fortified with Vitamin A and Vitamin D.
The food department inspection which was caught on camera inside Shanno’s house shows Shanno telling the officials that she had kept the goat fat in the box for cooking food in her house and not MDM for school.
But sensing something fishy in the matter, the team collected samples of the Pulao cooked for MDM as well as the animal fat remains kept in the steel box for further lab testing.
“Primarily it had come to our notice that adulterated food was being served by the SHG as MDM in the school, after which the food department team has seized MDM and other samples, which have been sent to Bhopal for lab testing. Till the time the findings of lab testing are known, the concerned SHG has been removed from the task for preparing MDM and alternative arrangements for MDM are being made. If the lab test deliver adverse report, action will be initiated against the concerned SHG as per the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act,” Khandwa district panchayat chief executive officer Roshan Singh said on Friday.
Importantly, in Hinauta village of East UP’s Mirzapur district, instead of balanced diet, salt and chapatis were reportedly served to students of a government school in the name of MDM. Coming to know about it, the district authorities suspended a teacher of the school and launched a probe into the incident on Thursday.