A worker at the Trần Nguyên Hãn Primary School in HCM City’s District 8 prepares lunches for students at the school kitchen. VNS Photo Thu Hằng
HCM CITY — The HCM City Department of Education and Training has ordered kitchens and canteens in schools to strictly follow food safety regulations and ensure that meals are prepared and served safely to students.
Võ Thị Trúc Mai, rector of Trần Nguyên Hãn Primary School in District 8, said her school fully complies with food safety regulations.
It has signed contracts with reputed companies for raw materials and foods with proper certificates of origin to ensure safety, she said.
Four workers are assigned to cook meals for more than 1,000 students, she said. They are given regular health checks and trained in cooking healthy and safe food for primary school students, she added.
Nguyễn Thúy Dung, one of the kitchen workers, said raw materials and fresh foods are checked for labeling, date of manufacture and quality before being used.
The kitchen and dining areas are kept clean to prevent possible contamination, she said.
Nguyễn Bình Sơn, a member of the school’s parent board, said he and other parents conduct regular visits to the kitchen and check the daily menu posted on a board at the school gate.
Parents whose children require special diets for medical reasons should inform the school’s administrators, he said.
Health authorities must step up inspection of food safety compliance at schools to prevent food poisoning, he added.
Trương Thị Thắm, deputy rector of Vườn Hồng Kindergarten in District 8, said the school has set up a board comprising staff and children’s parents to oversee food safety in its kitchen.
Kitchen equipment and dining tools are properly cleaned and sanitised every day, kitchen workers have regular health checks and training in food safety and hygiene and children’s nutrition, she said.
The school has signed contracts with food suppliers who are certified for safety and quality, she added.
Food poisoning concern
The recent case of food poisoning at Bình Trưng Đông Primary School in District 2 on September 11, a few days after the new school year began, has sparked concern over poor oversight of food safety at schools.
A teacher, a babysitter and 50 students were admitted to hospital after eating lunch and afternoon snack.
Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Trâm, deputy head of the District 2 Hospital’s paediatrics department, said the patients had fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomachache.
All were discharged after treatment for several days.
Trương Thành Trung, head of the District 2 Health Division, said cream puffs served for snack might have been the cause of the outbreak.
The lunch had been cooked at the school kitchen, but the cream puffs had been supplied by a household business.
Health authorities are awaiting test results to identify the exact cause, he said.
Nguyễn Phúc Huy Tùng, head of the district Education and Training Division, said all schools in District 2 cook lunch in their own kitchens to ensure food safety.
All rectors get compulsory training in food safety and hygiene at school kitchens and canteens, he added.
The city Food Safety Management Board has called on district people’s committees and the city Department of Education and Training to strengthen oversight to prevent food poisoning following the incident.
There are 1,620 collective kitchens, 318 ready-to-eat food facilities and 883 canteens in schools around the city, according to the board.
Phạm Khánh Phong Lan, its head, said the board and department have signed an agreement on food safety control at educational institutions.
The supervision of school food suppliers for compliance with food safety and quality requirements remains poor, she said.
Items served as afternoon snacks pose the biggest food poisoning concern, she said.
Parents should take part in monitoring food safety at schools and school managers should strengthen oversight of food safety practices, she added. —VNS
Workers at the Trần Nguyên Hãn Primary School in HCM City’s District 8 prepare lunches for students at the school kitchen. VNS Photo Thu Hằng