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Food Center Solution to Tasteless School Meals
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Shanghai Food and Drug Administration is pushing for the creation of a unified food processing plant to make semi-cook food for schools around Shanghai, which can then be heated and served to students.

The plan comes in response to a recent survey that indicates just fewer than 10 percent of primary school students and only 5.1 percent of middle school students in Shanghai are satisfied with the lunches served at school. Only 10 percent of teachers said they are satisfied with school meals.

The Hongkou District FDA surveyed 1,599 students, parents and teachers in the district. About half of the 1,142 students said they often throw away the lunch they are served at school.

More than 91 percent of middle school students and 76 percent of primary school students said the poor quality of lunch influences their study in the afternoon.

"The main complaint is that dishes are not fresh and delicious. About 80 percent of students and 90 percent of teachers and parents said there aren't enough green vegetables," said Zheng Guang, director of the Hongkou FDA.

Few schools in the district have their own cooking facilities to make lunches, as they lack room for a proper kitchen and dinning room, and many fear mass cases of food poisoning. Instead, they buy lunches from outside companies.

"I don't like the lunch box at school and just throw it away. My classmates and I always buy snacks or fast food at nearby supermarkets or stores," said Chen Jie, a middle school student.

Most survey respondents said they would like their school to set up its own kitchen, but school officials said they are worried about safety issues.

"Two food poisoning cases at schools in Hongkou since 2001 were due to mismanagement in dining rooms," Zheng said. "We want to find a method to provide tasty food while ensuring safety."

A unified food center could provide healthy meals that don't take much work to heat up, Zheng said.

(Shanghai Daily January 28, 2006)

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