The Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing) has begun a programme to train 7,000 noon meal workers in Government schools and Anganwadi centres in Coimbatore in safe and hygienic cooking practices.
This follows a directive issued by Tamil Nadu Food Safety Commissioner Kumar Jayanth during October following the death of 20 children after having poisoned midday meal at a school in Bihar.
Samples to be tested
R. Kathiravan, Designated Officer of Food Safety Wing, told The Hindu that once the training was completed, samples would be taken from cooking centres and tested for quality. Coimbatore has one of the six Government food testing laboratories in Tamil Nadu approved under Food Safety and Standards Act.
The workers would also be explained their responsibilities under this Act, which holds food organisers liable in case of food poisoning.
The workers have to submit fitness certificates attesting that they were not suffering from any communicable disease or skin ailments. The Act also required them to maintain a personal hygiene. Training in safe storage of water and raw materials for cooking especially the perishable commodities would also be given.
The cooks would also be instructed to store samples of the cooked food before and after serving the students and keep them for one day. In case of food poisoning, these samples would be used to ascertain the causes.
Further, the Designated Officer said that the cooks would also be taught how to remove the residue of fertilizers and pesticides from green vegetables. The location of kitchen and proper ventilation were also vital.
The training programme was being held in batches. As many as 700 workers had already been trained in Madukkarai and Kinathukadavu blocks. The remaining blocks would also be covered by the end of January, Mr. Kathiravan said.
Coimbatore district had 1,686 Anganwadi centres and 1,299 noon meal centres in the Government and Corporation schools.
Anganwadi centres are run by Integrated Child Development Services, a Central Government-sponsored social welfare scheme, to tackle malnutrition and health problems in children and their mothers.