School officials in China required to eat with students at school canteens, to ensure food safety

BEIJING (XINHUA, CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A new regulation will take effect on Monday (April 1), requiring school officials from kindergartens to secondary schools in China to dine with their students at school canteens.

The move is aimed at spotting problems and hazards related to school food safety and addressing them in a timely manner.

The new rule was jointly announced by the Ministry of Education, the State Administration for Market Regulation, and the National Health Commission.

Schools are also required to release information related to food sources and suppliers as well as set up risk prevention and control systems.

Food safety supervision departments are also required to strengthen supervision over school food safety by conducting regular inspections on and around campuses. They must also provide guidance to schools in the implementation of food safety responsibilities.

The regulation also aims to establish the work requirements for prevention, emergency response and coping with school food safety incidents.

Earlier this month, 36 children from a primary school in Chengdu, Sichuan province, were taken to hospital after mouldy food was reportedly found in a local "model student canteen".

Parents of the children from the school affiliated to Chengdu No. 7 High School Development School had posted videos and photographs of mouldy food, including tomatoes, meat pies and rotten frozen meat, in the school canteen.

Some parents said their children had diarrhoea and blood in their stool after eating at the canteen.

The school canteen was outsourced to Sichuan Deyu Logistics Management Service, the school said in a statement. The school said it was deeply sorry over the incident and held "inescapable responsibility" to children, teachers and parents for its lax supervision over its food supplier.

The administrators for the canteen and Sichuan Deyu Logistics Management Service had been suspended and taken by public security bureau for investigation, the school said.

Two officials in Chengdu were later suspended for their lax supervision over the primary school's canteen.