Children given chemical sealant instead of milk in Alaska school

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Children at a school in Alaska were left with burning throats after they were served a hazardous chemical sealant instead of their usual portion of milk during breakfast this week.

Shortly after breakfast was served in the cafeteria Tuesday at the Sit Eeti Shaanax Glacier Valley Elementary School in Juneau, which is hosting a summer day-care program, “students complained of the milk tasting bad and burning their mouth/throat,” the Juneau School District said in a statement Wednesday.

When employees checked the milk container and label, “it was found that the ‘milk’ served was actually a floor sealant resembling liquid milk. Staff immediately directed students to stop consuming the substance and removed it,” the statement added.

The school said 12 students ingested the chemicals and at least one received medical treatment after the breakfast was served by catering company NANA Management Services. The day-care program is for children ages 5 to 12.

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Parents were immediately informed, the statement said, and a poison control team was contacted. An investigation by the Juneau Police Department is underway.

District superintendent Bridget Weiss told the Associated Press that police did not suspect “anything criminal or mal-intent at this point, but we do want a thorough investigation of what happened, how it happened.”

Weiss said that the floor sealant looked like milk and that both substances were kept in large plastic bags inside cardboard boxes at a storage site off campus.

She said both were somehow placed on the same pallet. “We don’t know how that happened,” she said. “That pallet was delivered, and the assumption was that it was milk because that’s what we thought was being delivered.”

Part of the investigation will be to determine why food was stored in the same building as chemicals, she added, noting that a day later, “our students are doing fine.”

NANA, the Anchorage-based caterer, told NBC News that it was “in the midst of a comprehensive investigation that will look at every contributing factor to determine exactly what happened and to identify potential safety measures.”

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