Sweet poison

Preparations were underway to airlift five LKG students of Mt. Kanchan Valley Boarding School at Ravi bazar, Phidim, to Kathmandu after they started vomiting non-stop after eating some plastic-wrapped sweets on Tuesday. Two of them were in a critical condition. Following their vomiting fits, all five had lost consciousness. If it was a case of food poisoning, there could be two sources of adulteration. One, the sweetshop that might have used stale and inedible material or failed to maintain proper hygiene and two, the PVC plastic bag, which can contaminate food products under certain conditions.

The unhygienic practices some sweet makers indulge in pose huge health hazards to the people, even in Kathmandu. Food inspectors are desperately in short supply. The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) laments that it has a meagre 45 food inspectors across the country at a time it needs more than 1,000. Similarly, the awareness concerning the risks of using PVC plastic bags to wrap food products is dismal right across Nepal. Not long ago, around 40 students at a Lalitpur school had fallen ill after consuming cheap candies. It is primarily the responsibility of schools to make their students knowledgeable about the health risks of adulterated food products. And it is incumbent upon the government to employ more inspectors and to ensure that the schools are indeed doing so.