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Food poisoning incidents hit rural schools

By By Zheng Xin and Yang Jun (China Daily)

08:46, March 31, 2012

Seven students at a primary school in Southwest China remain in the hospital after they had eaten a free meal provided by the government and got sick, according to a local official.

The rest of the 79 students, who all attend the Babuzhen Central Primary School, in Bijie city's Zhijin county, Guizhou province, have been discharged, according to Chen Guangshi, director of the county's publicity department.

Eighty-six students at the school began to vomit and suffer abdominal pains after they had eaten the free breakfast on March 29.

"Some of the students were vomiting," said Chen. "But no one is seriously ill."

A product made by Mengniu Dairy, a milk producer in China, was involved in the case, which is suspected of causing the food poisoning.

In response to the incident, the county government has sealed up the free meals and taken samples for inspection.

Chen said he suspects the students' illnesses have something to do with the bread, milk and other food served in the breakfasts they ate.

But a report by Bijie's food safety office found the students' sickness had nothing to do with the food's quality. The office instead blamed poor digestion, saying that triggered a psychological reaction among a large group of students and produced the symptoms, China National Radio reported.

In a similar case, also involving Mengniu products, 251 primary school students in Yulin, Shaanxi province, were sent to the hospital in April last year after they had drunk milk distributed by their school and got sick.

Mengniu blamed that case on a psychological reaction and not food quality.

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