|Health workers are examining students from Lái Hiếu and Nguyễn Hiền primary schools in Ngã Bảy Town, southern Hậu Giang Province on October 27. Over 500 children from both schools are admitted to local medical centres after drinking flavoured milk and showing symptoms of nausea. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khương
HẬU GIANG — Health authorities have confirmed bacteria as the main cause behind a mass poisoning that affected hundreds of children at two primary schools in the southern province of Hậu Giang after they drank a mixture of chocolate milk late last month.
Two samples taken from the milk and victims’ vomit tested positive for microbes and bacteria, according to Nguyễn Thanh Tùng, director of Hậu Giang Province’s Department of Health.
Tùng revealed the results at a meeting on Monday afternoon between the provincial People’s Committee and Department of Health after nearly two weeks of investigation since the case occurred on October 27.
The results showed the sample contained Staphylococcus aureus, also known as golden staph, or a type of bacteria frequently found in the nose, along the respiratory tract, and on the skin in humans. It is a common cause of skin infections including abscesses, respiratory infections, and food poisoning.
The bacterial infection is said to have been triggered during the mixing process of the drink provided by the M.C Advertising Service Company, Tùng added.
Tùng said, based on the results, the department concluded the company had violated food safety regulations by providing unhygienic milk products that poisoned more than 500 students at the Lái Hiếu and Nguyễn Hiền primary schools in Ngã Bảy Town.
Reports from local health authorities said that as part of a campaign to encourage sport and physical exercise among local students, the M.C Advertising Service Company offered free chocolate milk to more than 760 pupils of the two schools on the morning of October 27.
About an hour after drinking the flavoured milk, the students began showing symptoms of nausea.
Over 500 children from both schools were admitted to local medical centres.
About 39 suffered more severe symptoms and were given infusions as well as special medications.
Fortunately, all of the students were able to return home by the evening due to timely treatment.
Đồng Văn Thanh, vice-chairman of the provincial People’s Committee said that the infection was caused by human error.
The free drink programme has been implemented at 38 other schools in the province without any issue, Thanh told the paper.
M.C Company will be asked to pay an administrative penalty and will be suspended from implementing the programme until the matter is resolved, the paper reported.
It was also asked to issue a public apology to children and their families.
Thanh urged the province’s health and education and training sectors to closely monitor and control all food product advertising programmes in school areas to ensure the products meet safety and hygiene standards before being supplied to children.— VNS