Officials deny poisoning amid ongoing milk crisis

Officials deny poisoning amid ongoing milk crisis

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Officials deny poisoning amid ongoing milk crisis

Some 7.2 million students in public schools are given free milk every day as part of a government project, however more than 4,000 have been hospitalized so far. DHA photo

As more students were hospitalized yesterday after consuming free milk distributed in public schools as part of a government project, officials announced that samples taken for testing showed that the milk did not contain any bacteria.

Diyarbakır Governor Mustafa Toprak said yesterday that samples taken from last week’s milk were clean, and did not contain any dangerous bacteria.

“The students who were hospitalized last week were diagnosed with an intestinal flora disorder,” Toprak told the Anatolia news agency. “We will continue to distribute the milk, but we will not give it to those who don’t want to consume it.”

Azim Tuna, governor of the western province of Çanakkale, also said claims that the incidents resulted from poisoning were false. “The incidents were caused by lactose intolerance, and this is something that can happen to some people. There is no need to generalize about these incidents,” he said.

4,000 incidents all across Turkey
Some 315 students in Diyarbakır and more than 4,000 across Turkey were hospitalized with suspected food poisoning last week, following the start of a government project to distribute free milk in state schools.

“We have sampled the milk and taken it in for analysis. We have stopped the distribution of milk of dubious quality in several cities. We had some 4,000 children with complaints, and none of them were diagnosed as having been poisoned,” Minister of Agriculture Mehdi Eker said last week.

The milk project has drawn reactions from opposition parties. A deputy from the Republican People’s Party, Aytun Çınar, said he submitted a parliamentary question yesterday, asking whether the milk had been tested before it was distributed.

“The information we were given shows that the companies that won the tender had difficulties in supplying the milk, and used different strategies to produce milk, such as using milk powder and oil,” Çınar said.

“Liquids made in this way are known to carry a milk protein that has an allergenic quality. This might have caused unwanted results,” Çınar added.

A 17-firm consortium won the tender to distribute milk to some 7.2 million school children in Turkey April 18. The cost of the free milk project is estimated at 74 million Turkish Liras.

More cases
Meanwhile 17 students in Ankara and 8 in the central Anatolian province of Kırıkkale were hospitalized yesterday. “If someone has a genetic intolerance to lactose and drinks 200 ml of milk, he is not necessarily hospitalized. He only suffers from a stomachache. Research shows that half of all adults in Europe are intolerant to lactose, but they do not wind up in hospitals,” Dr. Özlem Durmaz, of the pediatric gastroenterology department at Istanbul Memorial Hospital, told the Daily News earlier.