The health department in Banteay Meanchey province is investigating a case of food poisoning that left 140 students hospitalised in Preah Netr Preah district, where a South Korean charity group on Friday donated vegetable rice packets which are now being tested.
Keo Sophaktra, district health department director, said yesterday that 140 students at Pouy Samroung Primary School suffered poisoning and were hospitalised on Friday. He noted that all but six of them have since been discharged.
Mr Sophaktra said the department could not establish why the students suffered food poisoning after the hospital said it doubted that the vegetables in the food packets were the cause.
“We have sent samples to Phnom Penh for testing,” he said. “We doubt that they suffered poisoning after eating from the rice packets.”
Meas Rithy, district police chief, said yesterday that on Friday afternoon a group from a South Korean charity went to the Pouy Samroung Primary School to launch a restroom, which the charity built, and also hand out food packets to 287 students.
He said that around 8pm on Friday, 140 students started suffering from stomachaches and diarrhoea, and were sent to the provincial referral hospital.
“The students suffered food poisoning, but no one died,” Mr Rithy said. “We asked them what kind of food they ate and they told us that they had the rice packets with a bottle of water that the charity group handed out.’
Vat Vong, director of the school, yesterday said that the South Korean group visited the school and entertained the students before giving out the rice packets, bottled water and some sweets.
“When the students started vomiting and having diarrhoea, their parents and local authorities rushed them to hospital,” he said. “Luckily, no one died.”
Last year, the Health Ministry issued guidelines on how to prepare food to reduce cases of food poisoning and instructed those who prepare food to always use clean water and fresh food. It also said that those who prepare food must always wash their hands, fruits and vegetables.
The statement noted that those who have symptoms of food poisoning such as headaches, vomiting, dizziness or difficulty breathing, should be rushed to the nearest health centre or hospital for consultation.