Food officials to inspect water in college hostels
COIMBATORE: A week after 64 students of the Government Women’s Polytechnic College were treated for diarrhoea at the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital, the food safety department has ordered inspection of all college canteens and hostel mess. Meanwhile, the food safety department has confirmed that water contamination was the reason for illness of Government Women’s Polytechnic College students.
Designated officer of the food safety department, Coimbatore, O L S Vijay told TOI that as a preventive measure, the department would carry out inspections at all college canteens and hostel mess. "We will be checking the standard of hygiene at the canteens and mess, and if anything concerning the safety of students is identified we will give them notice," said Vijay. "In case colleges do not act, we will issue an improvement notice, and colleges will have to respond within 15 days," he added.
While the food safety department will be inspecting all canteens after the incident at the Government Women’s Polytechnic College, the department, as a routine, conducts random checks at two canteens, said Vijay. "We collect two samples every month, and carry out tests. At the same time, we ensure that the colleges renew their licences on time," the officer said. The maximum period given to a college to run canteens is five years.
The culture reports of the water and food samples collected from the college revealed that the water was the reason for the students’ illness. This is the third time in the last five years that contamination of drinking water at the college has caused illness to the students.
"We collected two samples of drinking water- one at the college main building and another at the hostel. Both samples were found to have yeast, moulds, Escherichia Coli and coliform bacteria," said an officer of the food safety department. "The presence of Escherichia Coli and coliform bacteria are the reason for the illness. Faecal contamination and human or animal blood traces could be the reason for the presence of these bacteria," the officer added.
The food safety department also pointed out that the water samples did not have chlorine. "If the water had been chlorinated, the infection could have been prevented. There should be 2ppm (part per million) of chlorine," the officer added.
The department also found that annual maintenance works were not carried out for the water filters installed at the college building and mess. "The college authorities have been asked to replace the filters, and after that we will collect samples of water again and test them," a food safety official said.
As a result of the report confirming that the drinking water contamination was the reason for the students’ illness, the food safety department has asked the college to clean and whitewash the sump. "A chlorine test kit has been provided to the college. They can test if the water supplied to the college has been chlorinated or not," the official of the food safety department said.