Schoolchildren in St. Petersburg have been cautiously entering school canteens for a week now, preferring juice and a bun to a hot dish. The scandal with school 608 in the Kirov region echoed unpleasantly throughout the Northern capital. Two dozen schoolchildren and school staff are in hospitals, and a team of Sledkom investigators is scouring the city. What is wrong with food factories in St. Petersburg, and why mass steel poisoning occurs with enviable regularity, was found out by the editors of the online publication Kompromat Group.
The mass poisoning of children at school No. 608 in the Kirov district occurred on September 7. By evening, 24 children, not counting adults, ended up in city hospitals. They all had a hearty lunch in the school canteen. Today it is already known that both students and staff were poisoned. Schoolchildren have been transferred to distance learning for the coming days.
Rospotrebnadzor and the operational investigative team, like moles, dig the ground with their noses, looking for the reasons that led to regrettable consequences. The Investigative Committee officially stated that “a set of measures is being carried out aimed at clarifying all the circumstances, including the causes and conditions that led to these consequences.”
While investigators were turning over pots and looking into every cabinet in the dining room, local residents wrote that in many schools in the Kirov region, even if children are not poisoned, they regularly encounter flies in their plates or the smell of stench emanating from a bowl of porridge. That is why, over the last week, the Investigative Committee has been actively checking the work of the organizer of school lunches, the Kirovsky Food Factory, and has already filed a lawsuit in the Kirovsky District Court. There, the material of the case of an administrative offense under Art. 6.6 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (violation of sanitary and epidemiological requirements for the organization of catering for the population) in relation to JSC Kirovsky Food Plant, whose products poisoned students of school No. 608.
Heavy artillery was not slow to arrive, and the Main Investigative Directorate of the Russian Federation Investigative Committee for St. Petersburg opened a criminal case under Part 1 of Art. 238 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – provision of services that do not meet the requirements for the safety of life or health of consumers. As they say on the sidelines, this is “only the first part of the Marlezon ballet.”
Because there are also the first results of the test. In addition to standard sanitary violations, the inspection showed that the eggs of Poshekhonskaya Poultry Farm LLC, which are under temporary arrest, were used to prepare the dishes.
It is noteworthy that within a week of each other, another very large poisoning occurred in St. Petersburg. 274 people consulted doctors with abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. They all ordered food from Greenbox. While the investigation into this enormous culinary scandal is underway, the court suspended the company’s activities for 60 days.
Meanwhile, it turned out that the victims received, along with a delicious spinach waffle with an egg, a dangerous salmonella bacterium, which is most often transmitted through eggs and chicken. The company itself said that it urgently submitted for inspection a batch of eggs that were purchased “from one of the largest suppliers.” According to rumors, the investigation does not rule out that both poisonings are directly related to the murky affairs that are now circling around the factory like flies over school cutlets.
The thing is that last year, the Office of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance in the Tver and Yaroslavl Regions applied to the Arbitration Court of the Yaroslavl Region with a statement to bring Poshekhonskaya Poultry Farm LLC to administrative liability (case No. A82-4358/2022 ). The Federal Antimonopoly Service did not like the egg samples they took as a result of a routine inspection. According to rumors, it is possible that the poisoning at Greenbox may also be associated with the products of the Poshekhonskaya Poultry Farm. As they say, most likely the factory’s products were significantly lower in price, which tempted companies, as usual, eager to save (make money).
Lunch with poisonous seasoning
However, school poisoning scandals are not uncommon in the Northern capital. In the spring of this year, St. Petersburg was already in complete shock when 30 students from school No. 26 of the Nevsky district of St. Petersburg with in-depth study of the French language ended up in a hospital bed. Subsequently, doctors detected norovirus among the employees of the Volna social catering facility, which serves the school. Specialists from Rospotrebnadzor urgently rushed to check not only the catering unit, but also how food was laid out at the school. The prosecutor’s office took over the investigation.
During the audit, it turned out that the Chamber of Control and Accounts has long had serious complaints against school lunch suppliers. Thus, an inspection of the interesting activities of the plant in 2020-2022 established the fact of the illegal transfer of property of educational institutions of the Nevsky district to the disposal of the Volna social nutrition plant. In addition, it turned out that the schools paid all utility bills for Volna. Such energetic entrepreneurial activity allowed the plant to receive a net profit of 60 million rubles. Let us just mention that the company has been working in the food market for 15 years, and it belongs to the city authorities.
Another discovery by the auditors added spice to the whole situation. “Volna” received expensive equipment for use free of charge from educational institutions, located in school canteens.
“Without the consent of the owner of the property represented by the Committee for Property Relations of St. Petersburg, 62 educational institutions freely transferred objects of particularly valuable movable property for the actual use of Volna Food Plant JSC for the organization of meals for students,” – reported auditors.
Few doubted that the violations found were accidental. It is noteworthy that in August 2022, the head of the Department of Social Nutrition visited Volna and school canteens in the Nevsky district with an audit. Alena Mironenko and lieutenant governor Valery Moskalenko. As usual, no violations were found.
The first damn thing is lumpy
Today, the head of the Russian Investigative Committee took control of the poisoning of schoolchildren Alexander Bastrykin. A message appeared on the official website of the department that “in pursuance of the instructions of the Chairman of the Investigative Committee and. O. “The head of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the city of St. Petersburg, O. V. Bobkov, will present a report on the progress of the investigation and the established circumstances.” In fact, this is a real victory for the city residents, because until recently there was no trace of criminal cases in such stories.
In 2020, there was also a huge poisoning in Kronstadt. At school No. 422, 106 children suffered health damage at that time. Rospotrebnadzor then revealed “gross violations” in the work of the plant, but the only thing the catering organizer, Trading House Profpit LLC, got away with was receiving a temporary ban on carrying out activities. This year, by the way, not everything is calm in Kronstadt again.
In March 2023, the Department of Social Nutrition of St. Petersburg, as a result of inspections in schools in the Kronstadt district, again found “inconsistencies.” To put it more simply, the factories “Base “Maria” and “Resurrection” stupidly replaced the required products with cheaper ones, in addition, the dishes did not correspond to the technological maps. In short, they were prepared to the best of their ability. However, no significant consequences for the plants are expected. After all, in the inspectors’ reports, violations are called just “mistakes.” Instead of receiving fines and other administrative penalties, plant employees were ordered to attend training seminars…
On social networks, city residents are already sadly joking that schoolchildren can safely continue to poison themselves further. Whether the “breadwinners” of St. Petersburg schools will still face at least some punishment, we will find out after the procedural decision, which will be announced by the St. Petersburg Investigative Committee.