Scores of pupils at a primary school in Mahalapye were last week rushed to hospital after they consumed vegetables that were suspected to have been recently sprayed with pesticides.
To be specific, a total of 26 students were admitted at Mahalapye Primary Hospital with signs of food poisoning after they ate rape and started vomiting and showing signs of diarrhoea when they got home. Unconfirmed reports indicate that there were other schools that experienced the same problem.
Rape is one of the new items that were introduced in the new school menu. Most of the food items are procured from local producers as a way of empowering them. However, it is unfortunate that any person would be so careless to release recently sprayed vegetables to the consumer, especially schools to feed students.
The new menu is one of the projects that should be commended as it improves the health of the students as well as economic empowerment of the local people. Pesticides can have long-lasting side effects on people, particularly children whose immune system is still developing. Many families cannot afford three meals a day, let alone the balanced diet that is essential for the growth of children and their protection from diseases.
It is unacceptable for some unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of this good initiative to supply dangerous food to schools. This unfortunate incident should serve as a wake-up call for the government to employ more food inspectors to
The initiative to empower our people is most welcome, but should not supersede the safety of our children. It is not only pesticides that are a threat to human beings, but a multiple of ingredients are found in food stuffs such as vegetables, eggs, beef, and even chicken.
For instance, there are suppliers who feed their livestock foods that transform into dangerous chemicals once consumed by chickens or cattle. In other countries, there is a limit for such substances in beef, eggs, and vegetables to protect the unsuspecting consumers.
In Botswana for instance, there are suppliers who put brine solution in their chicken and the government should have a prescribed limit for such if the chicken is supplied to schools. Good initiatives such as the new school menu should be undertaken after benchmarking exercise with countries that already do it.
We ought to be careful not to create a generation of children suffering from diseases such as hypertension, mental diseases and others because we did not do a thorough job to ensure that the food we serve them is safe.
“The food that enters the mind must be watched as closely as the food that enters the body. ”
- Pat Buchanan