Food safety monitoring center to ensure safe lunches in New Taipei City schools

City council demands more action to prevent food poisoning cases in schools

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New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi. (CNA photo)

New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A monitoring center will be in place in New Taipei City before the start of next semester to ensure the safety of lunches provided to junior high and elementary schools in the city.

New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) made the announcement on Friday (Nov. 1) during a city council meeting. The center will be the first in Taiwan to monitor the entire process of school catering, including the inspection of ingredients used by catering companies, and the overall environment and hygienic conditions of places where school lunch is prepared.

The monitoring center will also keep track of food preservation and the delivery of meals by catering services. According to Chang Ming-wen (張明文), commissioner of the city’s education bureau, the lunches of half of the schools in New Taipei City are currently provided by nine catering companies, and strict rules guaranteeing food safety have been imposed on those companies.

Some schools have their own kitchens and catering staff, and these schools are required to undergo a thorough review on an annual basis, Chang noted. Nevertheless, two cases of food poisoning occurred on school campuses in the city in September, prompting City Councilor Tang Hui-ling (唐慧琳) to demand more action from the city government to regulate school lunch providers.

The education bureau has promised to carry out inspections more frequently in catering companies and schools. It has said it will also encourage schools to establish their own kitchens to better ensure the quality of lunches.

As for the food safety monitoring center, it will be established before the next semester begins, but details about its functions and responsibilities remain to be discussed. The center will be led by the Department of Health with the assistance of the education and agriculture bureaus.