Min­istry: Keep stu­dents’ meals safe

Move fol­lows pub­lic out­cries over re­cent school can­teen scan­dals

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Holiday - By LI LEI lilei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Cen­tral au­thor­i­ties have urged of­fi­cials in Jiangxi and He­nan prov­inces to in­spect and elim­i­nate food safety risks in schools and to black­list sub­stan­dard food sup­pli­ers, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion on Fri­day.

The move fol­lowed pub­lic out­cries over two ru­ral school can­teen scan­dals this month.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials were sum­moned by the State Coun­cil Ed­u­ca­tion Su­per­vi­sory Com­mit­tee Of­fice on Thurs­day, and were told to take mea­sures to pre­vent sim­i­lar cases and pun­ished those in­volved, the state­ment said.

The of­fice asked lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to raise the bar for food sup­pli­ers, black­list those in­volved in mis­con­duct, and strengthen su­per­vi­sion of food safety.

The of­fice also urged can­teens to pub­li­cize data such as food pur­chase cost, the source of funds and in­for­ma­tion about the food sup­pli­ers, which should be open for me­dia and pub­lic over­sight.

The of­fice will or­ga­nize a field in­spec­tion soon, the state­ment said.

Early this month, 25 stu­dents from seven schools in Wan’an county, Jiangxi, fell ill after eat­ing school meals sus­pected of in­clud­ing ex­pired food. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties blamed the case on the schools’ fail­ure to ad­here to the cold-chain trans­porta­tion rules. Sev­eral lo­cal of­fi­cials were re­moved or re­ceived warn­ings. All stu­dents have re­cov­ered and re­turned to school.

On Sept 12, stu­dents at Da­cao Pri­mary School in He­nan’s Shang­shui county were found to be served what was far be­low the nu­tri­tional stan­dard set by the lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment. The school prin­ci­pal and a nu­tri­tion ex­pert su­per­vis­ing the school were re­moved the next day.

In 2011, China launched a large-scale plan with a sub­sidy of more than 16 bil­lion yuan ($2.3 bil­lion) ev­ery year to en­sure un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren can en­joy free, healthy meals.

One mi­cro blog user named “Jiangziya”, who is ou­traged by the two in­ci­dents, said over­sight is cru­cial to pre­vent such cases from hap­pen­ing again, and sug­gested that cam­eras be in­stalled at stu­dent can­teens.

“Prin­ci­pals and teach­ers should have meals to­gether with kids,” he wrote.

An­other mi­cro-blog­ger sug­gested that the in­spec­tion team should es­tab­lish a chan­nel with stu­dents and let them com­ment on their meals di­rectly. “Or when the in­spec­tion team leaves, the prob­lems would sur­face again,” she wrote.

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