Chengdu city authorities have threatened to close schools that fail to meet strict new hygiene standards, issued after a series of food poisoning cases.
Chengdu Municipal Education Bureau in Sichuan Province yesterday issued an emergency circular demanding improved efforts to ensure food safety among the city's kindergartens, and primary and high schools.
Kindergarten, primary and high school canteens that fail to meet hygiene standards will be closed and remain so until proper improvements are made, according to the circular.
Thirty-eight groups of supervisors are to be assigned to districts, cities and counties under Chengdu's administration over the next week to ensure the new rules are observed.
There have been a string of school food poisoning cases reported in Sichuan since last week.
The first case was reported as pupils at Dunyi Primary School, in the town of Wangsi near Chengdu, started vomiting after lunch in the school canteen.
As of yesterday afternoon, 66 pupils were in hospital diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis.
There was also a food poisoning case at Tashui Junior High School in Anxian County, which affected more than 60 students. Finally, a total of 606 pupils and teachers fell ill after lunch at Chongzhou City Experimental Primary School canteen.
The bacterium that caused the food poisoning outbreak here was later identified as Shigella sonnei, a cause of dysentery.
After this outbreak, parents complained that the local government had been slow in informing them of the crisis, and in dealing with the disease.
Also this month, about 1,000 of some 1,300 students at Junle Town Central School in Pengzhou, another city under Chengdu's administration, became ill after eating cold soybeans and soup made of fatty meat and potatoes at the school canteen. Three of the 38 hospitalized students were diagnosed as suffering from food poisoning that resulted from Shigella sonnei.
(China Daily September 12, 2006)