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Safe Food for City's Schools

Beijing food companies that provide meals for students are being urged to adopt a hygiene management system to assure food safety.

The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system recommended by the municipal Health Bureau is a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation and control of food safety hazards.

HACCP is designed for use in all segments of the food industry from farming, processing and distribution to preparing food for consumption. It is an effective approach to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.

Statistics indicate that more than 300,000 primary and secondary school students have meals which are provided by food companies.

A total of five cases of food poisoning were reported between 1999 and 2000, which left 418 students ill.

Safe food for students is a major public health concern, said Cai Changjing, an official with the Beijing Health Supervisory Office.

To assure the safety of students' food, the bureau has urged food companies in the capital to set up a food safety system - HACCP - by the end of this year.

Food providers that fail to meet the standards of HACCP will have their licences revoked.

HACCP is a management system in which food safety is monitored through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from the initial product, through procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption.

The system provides food suppliers with an effective and rational means of assuring food safety, and offer health workers a standard for sanitation supervision.

The bureau held a training class for company managers last week to introduce HACCP principles and their implementation.

Nearly 80 staff members from 54 food companies participated in the training class and the HACCP system has been welcomed by the food suppliers as a way to improve their food safety management and competitive strength.

The bureau will set up an experts group and a hot-line telephone to offer consultation and instruction about HACCP implementation for food companies.

There are about 100 food companies in Beijing providing meals for students at a price of 5 yuan (60 US cents) a meal on average.

(China Daily June 3, 2002)

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