The breakfast service at the school realized the mix-up when students started complaining that the "milk" tasted bad and was burning their mouths and throats.
On Tuesday, June 14, 2022, elementary school students at Sit' Eeti Shaanáx̱ Glacier Valley Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska, reportedly ingested floor sealant instead of milk during the breakfast food service at a summer childcare program. In a press release regarding the incident, the Juneau School District (JSD) explained that this occurred as a result of a mix-up with the food delivery service.
Alaska Students Served Floor Sealant Instead of Milk for Breakfast Due to Mix-Up, School District Says https://t.co/ucV4q3C0ep— People (@people) June 16, 2022
According to Associated Press (AP), 12 students and 2 adults were served the hazardous chemical. Shortly after being served breakfast, students—between the ages of 5 to 12—complained that the "milk" tasted bad and was burning their mouths and throats. The school district and contract personnel immediately took a look at the "milk" and found that it wasn't milk at all. Instead, they discovered that the liquid "was actually a floor sealant resembling liquid milk," officials said. Staff members "immediately directed students to stop consuming the substance and removed it," the press release revealed.
Speaking to reporters, Superintendant Bridget Weiss stated that a thorough investigation was being led, "not really because we believe there's anything criminal or mal-intent at this point, but we do want a thorough investigation of what happened, how it happened, and they're trained investigators."
A dozen children and two adults were served floor sealant instead of milk at a day care program at an Alaska elementary school.— The Associated Press (@AP) June 15, 2022
Officials say at least one child was treated at a hospital after containers for the two were apparently mixed up. https://t.co/zgev2t8ekh
The district now knows that the mix-up occurred when a pallet of floor sealant was delivered along with four pallets of shelf-stable milk to the JDS food community in the spring of 2021. "This warehouse is reserved for food items only for JSD," the district explained in its press release. The pallet of floor sealant remained untouched until NANA Management Services (NMS)—an Anchorage-based caterer that provided all of the food items—ran short of milk this week and tasked staff with retrieving some shelf-stable milk from the warehouse. On June 14, three boxes of the floor sealant were "picked up from the warehouse by NMS and one was delivered to the NMS food worker at" the elementary school, the release stated.
The other two boxes were delivered to Harborview Elementary School and Mendenhall River Community School where they remained unopened. "We don't know how that happened, but they were all put on the same pallet," Weiss remarked. "That pallet was delivered, and the assumption was that it was milk because that's what we thought was being delivered."
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. https://t.co/QlQEBJt1nj— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 16, 2022
The RALLY summer program site manager immediately contacted poison control after realizing the dangerous mix-up and received instructions to ask students to drink water and seek medical attention if any discomfort continued. Symptoms reported included headache, nausea and burning of the mouth and throat. Fortunately, the sealant had a low ingestion risk as dictated by school standards. Although parents were notified of the incident, there was a delay in communication that led to some of them receiving details about the situation from other people, which the press release noted "is not [the] best practice."
According to the school district, students were monitored by staff and some were taken by parents for medical treatment at the Bartlett Regional Hospital or their medical provider. Fortunately, all affected students were recovering as of Wednesday evening and some are said to have fully recovered.
Elementary school children in Alaska were served floor sealant instead of milk at a child care program, the school district said. https://t.co/W8SU2giH8e— CNN (@CNN) June 16, 2022
Meanwhile, the sealant has since been removed from the premises and placed in chemical storage. Furthermore, the food service operations have continued with increased oversight by an NMS safety team that arrived in Juneau the same day of the incident. The facility and operations have also been inspected by the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Food Safety and Sanitation Office and approved for continuing operations. The school district assured the public in its press release that all the floor sealant has been accounted for and that the kitchens have also been inspected and cleared for operation.
Several students complained of burning sensations in their mouth and throats, and at least one child was treated at a hospital after the incident in Juneau, Superintendent Bridget Weiss said. https://t.co/jxwrdpobm1— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 15, 2022
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, NMS, said they are "supporting the full investigation" and "looking at every contributing factor to determine what happened. This process is key to identifying potential safety measures and putting those safety measures to work."