Authorities in the in the impoverished eastern state of Bihair, India have ordered teachers to taste all school meals provided for children before serving. This follows the recent death of over 25 children due to pesticide-contaminated food. 48 children consumed the meal, which consisted of rice, soybean and potato curry. It was provided by the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, the world’s largest school feeding program, which feeds 120 million children worldwide, reports The Guardian.
Top local education department official, Amarjeet Sinha told reporters that the cooking oil was tainted after being stored in a container that previous held pesticides. The new rule is in an effort to “dispel any fear in [children’s] minds that the foods are unsafe.” Children have been refusing to eat the food since the tragedy.
Parents of the victims have begun burying their deceased children on the school’s grounds in demonstration.
The school’s headmistress fled after the deaths came to light. She and her husband, who owns the store where the ingredients were bought, are currently missing. The cooks and children told the headmistress of a foul taste in the food, but ignored their warnings.