Forty-two students and parents were hospitalised after eating what is believed to have been tainted bread in Kratie on Saturday, though all but five have been released as of yesterday evening.
The 35 student victims, grades 4 through 6, as well as seven parents, ate the locally made bread at Chhlong Primary School during a reading contest, according to Duong Sothy, the police chief of Chhlong district.
According to Sothy, about 270 people attended the event, where 350 pieces of the bread had been distributed by the NGO ChildFund Cambodia, but a ChildFund representative who declined to give her name said yesterday that the organisation had simply provided money for the school to buy the bread.
The food poisoning symptoms included diarrhoea and headaches. No one suffered from serious complications.
Ly Sovann, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, yesterday said that the ministry and the provincial health departments are studying samples of the bread.
According to Sovann, most “street food” poisonings have to do with poor hygiene during preparation and incorrect storage. “Hygiene is the biggest issue with cooking, packaging and keeping the food,” he said. “There is a need to educate cooks.”
Cases of mass food poisoning are not uncommon in Cambodia, and the Health Ministry started working with the World Health Organization last year to train inspectors from various ministries to check for sanitary conditions in food preparation businesses.