By Dinouk Colombage
A 11 year old child died last Wednesday after consuming a chocolate and a popular branded soft drink. Her mother who had consumed the same products had been hospitalised for suspected food poisoning. The contaminated food had been bought from a local shop in Vavuniya by the child’s father on his way home from the army camp where he is stationed.
It was reported that shortly after consuming the chocolate the child began vomiting, on returning with a three-wheeler to take the child to the hospital the man found his wife had also collapsed. They had both been admitted to the Polonnaruwa Hospital; the child died on the way while the mother is still receiving treatment. The Sunday Leader was not allowed to speak to the mother. Hospital staff claimed that until a post-mortem was carried out on the child they would be unable to comment on the cause of death.
On Friday, February 18, Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena ordered that all soft drink manufacturing factories in the country be inspected. Sirisena has ordered all officials to direct their attention to the production, packaging and distribution of the products. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health told The Sunday Leader that ‘all necessary steps were being taken to ensure such an incident does not occur again.’ When asked whether or not it is possible that other food or drink items were contaminated he explained that ‘until the results of the post mortem arrive we will be unable to comment.’ The Minister was unavailable for comment.