One hundred and eight students suffered from food poisoning in the northern governorate of Beheira after eating contaminated lupini beans from their public school’s canteen.
Many of the Al-Adl Primary School students who were poisoned were admitted to the nearby Nubariya Central Hospital for treatment. Some of the affected students are as young as three years old.
The incident of mass food poisoning took place on Tuesday – the second day of the academic year – and media outlets initially reported that over 80 students had fallen ill, dozens of whom were hospitalized. However, as of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, local media outlets reported that this number rose to 108, citing hospital officials.
According to interviews with Dr. Ahmed al-Gameel, director of this hospital, samples of the contaminated lupini beans were taken from the school canteen for analysis, which revealed that “water unsuitable for human consumption” was used in their preparation.
Gameel told the privately owned Cairo Portal news website that further food samples were taken from the school canteen for analysis.
The privately owned Youm7 website reported that the manager of Al-Adl Primary School was referred to the prosecutor general for investigation, along with the school’s nutrition specialist and the canteen’s employees.
In an interview with Youm7, Ibrahim al-Tadawi, deputy director of educational affairs in Beheira, which oversees Al-Adl Primary School, denied that the contaminated lupini beans came from the school cafeteria. Tadawi claimed that a street vendor outside the school’s gates was selling the beans as snacks to students.
However, parents and family members of the hospitalized students insist, based on accounts of these students themselves, that the school canteen was the source of the contaminated lupini beans.
Other cases of food-poisoning have occurred at public educational institutions in previous years.
One incident in January 2015 saw over 150 Al-Azhar students in Assiut hospitalized for food poisoning according to the Health Ministry.
One of the most prominent cases of food poisoning took place in April 2013, when over 500 students were hospitalized at Al-Azhar University in Cairo after eating after eating contaminated meat prepared at their campus dining hall. Hundreds of students demonstrated in response, resulting in the trial of 10 university officials and cooks, who were all later acquitted.
*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that 168 students were hospitalized at Al-Azhar University in Assiut in 2013. It has been amended to reflect this incident occurred in 2015.