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15.02.2010 Editorial

Groundnut soup mishap

By Daily Guide
Groundnut soup mishap
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Last week Wednesday was nightmarish for both students and parents of the Archbishop Potter's Girls Senior High School in Takoradi following the uncomfortable aftermath of a rice and groundnut soup meal.

The menu can make a mouth-watering lunch or supper any day but when badly handled, it can be dangerous, as evidenced in what befell the aforementioned school.

That was not the first time such a culinary anomaly has happened in our school system, the first in recent times being when some beneficiary pupils of the Ghana School Feeding Programme took ill, victims of food poisoning.

They consumed a lunch of rice and groundnut soup which was badly managed. The situation was so worrying that the authorities ordered that the menu be immediately struck from the list of alternatives.

There is no doubt about the fact that groundnut soup preparation and handling requires extra care, failure to adhere to which can result in life-threatening situations as witnessed last week.

The culinary expertise and health status of persons engaged to prepare meals for institutions, such as schools, should be above board.

When people with little or no respect for details are engaged for this occupation, they could endanger the lives of the pupils or students.

Equally dangerous is employing persons with certain ailments to cook for students. Applicants for cooking positions could produce fictitious certificate so they can be considered, and so there is the critical need to ensure that such persons produce documents attesting to their good health from recognized sources.

The importance of ensuring that our students and pupils eat good food while they are in the care of school authorities should not be over-looked under any circumstance.

The anguish of parents, as they raced to the Category A, Western Region, to find out the status of their daughters, was understandable.

It is our position that the cause of the occurrence be sought and this, in our opinion, should be based on the result of the laboratory test which was immediately ordered when the trouble struck. We even think that the result of the laboratory interrogation, which should be ready by now, should be made public.

A full scale inquiry should be instituted with the laboratory result providing a critical input. We have no doubt in our mind that someone along the food preparation chain was just careless in the discharge of their duties.

We know for instance that groundnut paste, the main ingredient for the groundnut soup, is mixed with other additives to increase the quantity, a combination which can result in a nasty occurrence such as happened in the Western Region school and the one before it in the school feeding programme.

On the other hand, when groundnut soup is not fully done, consuming it can often lead to diarrhoea, a complication which can be fatal when excessive fluid is lost, especially in kids.

What we eat determines, to a large extent, our health status and so we would like to encourage school authorities and the Ghana Education Service to raise the quality bar of the meals served to students in the boarding school system.

We are aware of the challenges of budgetary constraints, but for us, and it makes sense, the health of these leaders of tomorrow should not be compromised and we mean it.

Source: Daily Guide

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