The district administration of Kanpur Dehat (rural) has ordered a probe into the matter and is testing the food served at the hostel of Prabhat Engineering college in Akbarpur.
Four of the 16 admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a private nursing home are said to be critical, an official said. Students started vomiting and complained of loose motion after the lunch on Wednesday afternoon.
The hostel accommodates 365 boys and 30 girls. The food served in the last round of lunch was either apparently stale or was laced with something, owing to which the students had food poisoning, an official told Indo-Asian News Service.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM-Sadar) Jai Nath Yadav said students had told officials that the food was stale and after consuming it they started having loose motions and vomiting.
"A team of government doctors is camping with the students at the private nursing home and we are keeping a close watch on the situation" he added.