The government of India feeds millions of children every day through their mid-day meal programmes. While a lot of children are getting access to a proper meal, there is very little attention to the quality of food being served to the kids.
There have been countless incidents where children have fallen sick because of the poor quality of food they were served. In April 2018, 17 students in Mumbai's Bhandup area fell sick after eating Dal Rice served to them at school and were hospitalised. In many cases, insects such as flies, spiders and even lizards have been found in food served to school kids. Even in July 2019, rats, and other critters were found in the rations used to make food for school children. This is exactly why the government needs to impose basic food safety standards in all kitchens in India.
This incident comes from Madhyapradesh where the toilet of an Aanganwadi centre was being used as a kitchen to cook food for children. After the word of this activity got out, a few local reporters visited the centre and found that materials used to cook food were kept on the toilet seat. The food was being prepared in the same toilet at a little distance!
What's funny is that when this issue was raised in front of Imarti Devi, the Minister for Woman and Child Development, she said, "there is nothing wrong in cooking inside a toilet."
"You should understand that if a partition exists between a toilet and kitchen, there is nothing wrong in preparing food. These days, even in our homes we have attached bathroom," She added.
Yes, we have bathrooms attached to our homes, but we don't go and cook in it because of the countless hazardous aspects involved!
However, Women and child development officer, Shivpuri Devendra reportedly said, "A self-help group had taken control of the toilet and was using it as a temporary kitchen. Action is being taken against the Anganwadi supervisor and workers involved."
This is one of the thousands of cases you would come across in rural India. Which is why we think that there should be hard and fast rules about food safety set by the government. But Just making these rules would not suffice, there has to be a stringent check on kitchens to see if they are maintaining standards.