Authorities launch thorough investigation on school food safety in China

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/14 18:33:41

The food and drug bureau in Bo'ai county, Central China's Henan Province exams the food condiments used in the local school canteen. Food safety issues have become increasingly high profile across the country in recent years, and some of the leading companies in various fields from the dairy industry to the retail sector have been involved in food scandals, prompting the government to enhance public awareness of food safety and quality. Photo: VCG

China's market regulation administration has requested authorities around China to immediately investigate school food supply risks and report the results by April 15 after moldy food that allegedly sickened 36 students in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province sparked parents to rush to the school, some of whom were briefly detained. 

The State Administration for Market Regulation announced on its website on Wednesday that it urged Sichuan provincial authorities to launch a thorough investigation into the canteen food materials and supplies, and punish those responsible for violating school food safety regulations in accordance with the law.

The announcement came after some parents in the city reported a quality problem with the food served to elementary students at Chengdu No.7 High School Development School. Their complaint to authorities triggered public outrage, with many of the parents rushing to the school on Wednesday.

About 100 people disrupted traffic, seriously disturbed the public order in Wenjiang district where the school is located. Police used tear gas and detained 12 people who hit the police, police said on Sina Weibo.

The police said they released 12 of them later that day.

An angry parent told the Global Times on Thursday that the elementary school department has suspended classes. The school sent parents a notice to inform them the Wenjiang district education bureau took over the school while local authorities set up an investigation team and would hold a meeting to respond to parents' questions in the school, she said.

A parent would be selected as a representative for a dialogue with the team, she said.

The food safety scandal has drawn national attention, with the public slamming the school's unscrupulousness and urged authorities to thoroughly investigate the responsible party, including the canteen food supplier, Sichuan Deyu Logistics Management Services Co. Ltd.

Deyu's website said that the company serves more than 20 schools and over 100,000 students in Sichuan, arousing public concern over food safety at other schools.

Local schools in Sichuan have been self-examining and disciplining over the canteen food materials and supplies, and published the results, according to announcements from the local market regulation bureaus in the province. 

The district government of Wenjiang said on Weibo on Wednesday that the school canteen had cut ties with Deyu. 

The 36 students were treated and released from a hospital after the local health bureau assigned doctors to treat them, said the Wenjiang government on Wednesday.

According to posts spread on Sina Weibo on Tuesday, the school had allegedly been serving moldy food for a long time, causing students to suffer from gastrointestinal disorders.

"My niece told us the canteen food smelled bad, but I thought she was just a picky person," the parent said, noting that canteens in the middle and high school departments were also served by Deyu.

It was reported that a parent discovered the food quality problem after working undercover for a month at the school canteen after her child suffered long-term loose bowels.

Newspaper headline: Authorities launch school food safety investigation


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