By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Department of Education (DepEd) is investigating a suspected food borne illness involving elementary students in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.
In a statement, DepEd said that it has coordinated with the involved local government unit, the National Dairy Authority, and concerned agencies for the analysis of milk samples and the investigation of the incident.
At least 100 elementary pupils were hospitalized after they consumed suspected contaminated fresh milk during the feeding program of the Department of Education (DepEd) District 2 last week.
These pupils were from Sitio Tubod, Sitio Kangabok, and Proper Nagbinlod, all of Barangay Nagbinlod; and Barangay Alangilan.
Based on the initial police investigation, the DepEd district supervisor of District 2 received fresh milk from the Division Office of Negros Oriental. However, the fresh milk has no label or any information regarding the supplier.
DepEd said the milk were distributed in schools in the area under the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP), as one of the Department’s priority initiatives which aims to address hunger and encourage learners to enroll and contribute to the improvement of their nutritional status, as mandated by Republic Act 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.”
Based on the field report, majority of the affected learners experienced mild illnesses, including dehydration and nausea. They were treated in nearby hospitals and were discharged later on.
Nonetheless, DepEd said it has facilitated the provision of immediate medical assistance to affected individuals and will continue to monitor their health status.
DepEd, through the Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Health Division and concerned field offices, is committed to continue assisting the learners and their families.
The Department will also investigate possible actions against those responsible entities or individuals.
DepEd has assured that the health and safety of their learners remain the utmost priority of the Department, and they will ensure that measures will be instituted to prevent occurrence of similar incidents.