Steps Made to Ensure Food Safety

Government officials have stressed that more efforts will be made to ensure food safety in schools across China, after several cases of food poisoning have been recorded.

Such cases threatened the health of students and teachers, resulting in the disruption of classes, said Zhang Wenkang, minister of health, on a national televised meeting on the safety of school food.

Tougher measures will be taken against unsafe food in schools, Zhang said.

The health watchdog will also upgrade its supervision over the management of school canteens and restaurants near school areas, to guarantee a healthy dining environment for students, Zhang said.

According to official statistics, the ministry received 15 food poisoning reports in the first half of this year, with 1,128 people being affected, -- four of which died.

Among five food poisoning cases which took place in schools, 502 people were affected as a result.

Students tend to be victims of germ-related food poisoning and pesticide poisoning, said Wang Zhan, vice-minister of education.

"Since food poisoning in schools always results in numerous victims, tough measures must be taken to stop it,'' Wang said.

One food poisoning case took place this June in Nanzhuang Town, South China's Guangdong Province, which affected 81 middle-school students.

Students apparently ate contaminated food which resulted in fevers and vomiting.

Just this month, two teachers were arrested in connection with the poisoning of 74 people in Baise, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The teachers who were running a catering business, supplied the canteen of Baise No 1 Middle school with rat poison placed in flour, after a fit of jealousy, because a nearby restaurant was seen to be doing better business.

Officials with the Ministry of Public Security pledged at the meeting to tighten the supervision of rat poison and pesticides used in agricultural products. Public security departments are being urged to take all State banned rat poison off the market.

With the assistance of the ministries of Education and Public Security, the Ministry of Health has launched a spot check on food safety on schools all across the country.

School canteens and restaurants with poor hygiene conditions will be ordered to clean up their businesses or close.

Catering businesses that produce or supply food products to schools must have sanitary safety licences, officials with the Ministry of Health stated.

(China Daily 08/25/2001)

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