Egypt to investigate alleged food poisoning of hundreds at al-Azhar University

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Egypt’s Prosecutor General Talaat Abdullah ordered on Tuesday an investigation into alleged food poisoning that has struck more than 500 university students.

Egyptian news website Bawbat al-Ahram quoted the Ministry of Health and Population as saying the number of al-Azhar University students affected had reached 540.


University President Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed al-Tayeb, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric, called for the situation to be addressed immediately.

“There have been cases of food poisoning among students, and they have been hospitalized,” the state-run MENA news agency quoted ministry official Khaled al-Khatib as saying.

However, the head of the Demerdash Toxicology Center said samples taken from patients “tested negative for food poisoning,” MENA reported. Those hospitalized “suffer from acute intestinal catarrh,” but “their general medical situation is stable.”

Hundreds of students stormed Tayeb’s offices, and dozens on Monday blocked the road to al-Nasr district, near the students’ hostel, to protest over the quality of food served there, and to demand the resignation of university principal Osama al-Abed. The road was reopened at dawn on Tuesday.

Abed has ordered the referral of officials in charge of the hostel and nutrition to the general prosecution, and has suspended them from work until the results of the investigation are announced, Reuters reported.

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