1Malaysia milk scheme: What could have gone so wrong?

The Johor State Health Department issued a directive to suspend the distribution of free milk to primary schools in the state under the 1Malaysia Milk programme effective Friday.

In a press statement, state health department deputy director on safety and food quality, Azhar Ahmad, stating that three  teachers and 176 students of standards 1 and 2 were given milk to drink on May 18 at 4pm.

Just 10 minutes later, many started to complain of stomachache.

Forty-two of the students were affected, of which 23 were rushed to the Sultanah Aminah general hospital whereas  another three were treated at a neighbourhood medical clinic in Kempas, here.

The affected three students were said to have suffered food allergy and were treated accordingly.

Investigations have been ongoing since May 19 including interviews with the school authority and inspections of  the school’s milk storage area.

The statement further states that the balance of the unconsumed milk was in good condition and stored in an air-conditioned storage area.

The state health department will re-evaluate the free milk programme after obtaining the laboratory test results within seven working days.

The milk supplier has a factory in Saleng, Kulaijaya, here, and started delivering the milk consignment on May 16 at 7am to three schools namely Sekolah Kebangsaan Bandar Seri Alam, Sekolah Kebangsaan Kopok and Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampong Maju Jaya respectively.

The delivery for the day was completed at about 2.15pm the same day.

Eleven samples were randomly selected from the delivered milk consignment  which has been sent to the laboratory to test for enteric patogenic bacteria.

The State Health department made an inspection at the milk supplier store  in Saleng, Kulaijaya, here on May 19.

The outcome of the inspection showed the store recorded an ambient temperature of twenty-seven degree celsius whereas the milk storage area proper records revealed the temperature to be fluctuating between twenty-seven to  twenty-nine degree celsius.

A record detailing the required once in three-months parasites control exercise was also being scrutinised.

The Ministry of Education allocated some RM4 million for starting the nationwide One Malaysia Milk programme.

The free  milk is supplied to all primary 1, 2 and 3 poor students nationwide.

In mid April, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Puad Zarkashi had announced the temporary suspension of this free milk scheme for poor school children after 29 students of Sekolah Kebangsaan Rahman Putra in Sungai Buloh allegedly fell ill after consuming milk provided — a mere four days after the free milk programme was rolled out.