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Over 20 Taiwanese elementary students suffer food poisoning from school lunches

Milk products supplied to Shen-Mei Elementary in Keelung by Victory Food Corp were also involved in earlier incident

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Keelung Health Bureau officials inspect food containers at Shen-Mei elementary school on Saturday, Oct. 14. 

Keelung Health Bureau officials inspect food containers at Shen-Mei elementary school on Saturday, Oct. 14.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As of Saturday (Oct. 14) night, more than 20 elementary students in Keelung City were admitted to the hospital due to food poisoning from school food.

The students, who all attend Shen-Mei Elementary School in Xinyi District, began reporting symptoms of vomiting Friday (Oct. 13) night, with students being admitted to emergency rooms the following day, reported UDN. Investigators suspect that a spoiled milk product served on Friday is responsible for the food poisoning.

Samples of milk, yogurt, and other food items served at the school have been taken for testing to determine the precise origin of the foodborne illness.

The current incident of food poisoning among elementary students in Keelung follows five months after a previous incident. In May, 11 elementary students at Keelung Municipal Wu-Lun Elementary were sent to the hospital after drinking a spoiled yogurt drink.

Significantly, the company that sourced the spoiled yogurt drink to Wu-Lun Elementary in May, Victory Food Corporation, is also a food provider for Shen-Mei Elementary. Milk products supplied by Victory Food are thought to be responsible for the food poisoning in both incidents, per UDN.

The Keelung City Health Bureau will conduct a full investigation into the food served at Shen-Mei and into food providers like Victory Food. The company may be fined in accordance with the Act Governing Food Sanitation and Safety.

Following May’s incident, the Health Bureau investigated Victory Food, finding that the level of harmful bacteria in their products was minimal. The results did not meet the threshold to make the company responsible for the children’s food poisoning, per UDN.

City councilors Cheng Wen-ting (鄭文婷) and Chang Jiho (張之豪) are calling on the city government to take stricter measures to ensure the safety of children’s school lunches. Some parents of students affected in this week’s incident have called on the Department of Education and current director Liu Mei-lan (劉美蘭) to be held responsible for the lapse in food safety, reported UDN.