A kindergarten teacher in China’s Henan province has been detained after she allegedly poisoned 23 children by putting nitrite into their food.
The victims, who were all students at Mengmeng kindergarten in Jiaozuo city, fell ill after eating porridge supplied by the school Wednesday morning, according to a statement posted to social media Monday by local authorities.
One child is still being treated, while another seven are still in the hospital, authorities said. The other 15 children have already been discharged.
The children’s sudden mass illness sparked a police investigation which alleged the teacher, referred to only by the surname Wang, put nitrite into the porridge.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nitrite is likely a carcinogen used in fertilizers, food preservation and even munitions and explosives.
Eating nitrite in high amounts can lead to increased heart rates, headaches, vomiting and even death.
One parent, surnamed Li, told Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times he had received a call from the kindergarten Wednesday that his child had vomited and fainted. When he arrived, his child was unconscious.
“The vomit was all over [their] pants. There were other children who were also throwing up, and they looked pale,” Li said.