In the wake of the midday meal tragedy in Bihar, the Centre has engaged the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to randomly test samples of food served as part of the scheme for quality and their protein and calorie content.
In fact, the measure has already been implemented in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh and results of the first samples collected in the two states are awaited.
Scientists from CSIR would be involved in the exercise which will be undertaken across the country, HRD Ministry officials said.
The outcome of the reports from the tests would have a bearing on the funds released to the states, they said.
“Schools would be randomly selected for sample collection. Apart from the kitchen where the food is cooked, samples would also be collected from the food which is finally served to the students”, they said.
The recent midday meal tragedy in Bihar claimed the lives of 23 students after they consumed food served in their school.
The latest development follows strong instructions from HRD Ministry to the states to strictly adhere to the guidelines drawn up to ensure safety of the food served as part of the scheme.
Among the HRD Ministry’s directives is one calling for teachers and a member of the school management committee to taste the food before serving.
States have also been asked to ensure that items used in preparing the food, including the oil, were of standard quality and packaged in sealed containers.
Reports suggest that the ministry has received over 100 complaints over the last two years about mismanagement in the midday meal scheme and misappropriation of funds, notably in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.