Bad milk or lactose intolerance?
More than 40 students were hospitalized in the eastern province of Bitlis yesterday with the claims of poisoning. The total number of students reached nearly 4,000 across Turkey’s cities and towns. AA photoAs more school children were hospitalized yesterday on the second day of a free milk project, state officials said they had stopped the distribution of milk of dubious quality, adding that the incidents had been caused by lactose intolerance.
“We have sampled the milk and took it under analysis. We have stopped the distribution of milk with dubious quality in several cities. Yesterday we had some 4,000 children with complaints and none of them were diagnosed as having been poisoned,” Minister of Agriculture Mehdi Eker said yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also said it was necessary to determine whether the children’s illnesses had been triggered by psychological or medical reasons. The findings should also be shared with the public, he said, adding that the distribution of the milk ought to be supervised. “The quantities [in question] are very large. We ought to show extreme care as to whether there is any spoiled milk among them. I believe the ministry will act with greater transparency and accountability following the incidents of the first day,” Arınç said.
More than 100 children were hospitalized yesterday with suspected food poisoning in several cities across Turkey.
“The first datas we have found point out that the incidents were caused by [lactose] intolerance,” Health Minister Recep Akdağ said yesterday.
“Some 7.2 million [boxes] of milk [were] distributed to the children. Lactose intolerance set off a reaction among some of them. This has nothing to do with food poisoning caused by milk,” said İrfan Erol, the head the Agriculture Ministry’s Food and Control Directorate.
However, Gül Kızıltan, a nutritionist doctor from Başkent University said explanations pointing to lactose intolerance were not enough to explain the mass sickness experienced by the children.
“This is actually not possible. Because even if the kids had drunk milk once in their entire life, their bodies would react to lactose if they have intolerance,” Kızıltan told the Daily News yesterday.
“If someone has genetic intolerance to lactose and drinks 200 ml of milk, he is not necessarily hospitalized. He only suffers from stomach-ache. Researches show that half of all adults in Europe have an intolerance to lactose but they do not apply to hospitals,” doctor Özlem Durmaz from the children’s gastroenterology department of Istanbul Memorial Hospital told the Daily News yesterday.
Meanwhile, Muharrem İnce, the group deputy leader of the main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP), derided the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for its response to the incident.
“Serum is all that is left off of the promotion of the AKP’s milk. I am certain they will retreat into a corner and claim that school headmasters, hunger and families are to blame.” İnce said. It would also be sensible to let the public know whether the milk had been obtained in accordance with pre-specified conditions, he added.