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Health Ministry: Al-Azhar food poisoning caused by Salmonella

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The Ministry of Health and Populations says workers in the food industry must be mindful of their personal hygiene

An Egyptian student (C) from the al-Azhar University receives treatment at an ambulance in Cairo late on April 1, 2013 (AFP File Photo)

An Egyptian student (C) from the al-Azhar University receives treatment at an ambulance in Cairo late on April 1, 2013
(AFP File Photo)

The Ministry of Health and Population determined on Friday evening the cause of the second Al-Azhar food poisoning scandal was the Salmonella bacteria. Health Minister Mohamed Moustafa Hamed made the announcement in a press statement Friday, state owned Al-Ahram reported.

The investigation was launched after 180 students from Al-Azhar fell ill in April, the second incident of its kind in as many weeks. The students became sick after eating in the dormitory cafeteria.

The first incident resulted in 500 students falling ill to food poisoning, sparking protests calling for investigations and accountability for negligence and deteriorating conditions in the dormitories.

The committee tasked with investigating the incidents was initiated by Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb and several student representatives.

Salmonella is a bacterium that thrives in uncooked food. Usually found in eggs, Salmonella can also grow in meat. The bacteria cannot be killed by freezing; instead it must be heated for prolonged periods of time at temperatures exceeding 55C.

The health minister said it was extremely important for food handlers to ensure their personal hygiene is maintained in order to avoid cross-contamination of food.

Several Al-Azhar officials were detained pending investigations into the food poisoning incidents, and the Supreme Council of Al-Azhar has promised to replace the head of the university.

The university has also been under fire for the death of an engineering student, Ahmed El-Baz, after he was reportedly misdiagnosed by the university medical staff.


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Luiz Sanchez

Luiz Sanchez


Luiz is a Brazilian journalist in Cairo @luizdaVeiga

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