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New Food Hygiene Law: Caterer Liable

Posted June. 27, 2006 03:17,   


Concerning the worst case of school food poisoning, the government and Uri Party decided to change food hygiene and other related laws so that catering companies must take responsibility for the safety of food supplied by collaborating companies.

Currently, according to food hygiene laws, a large catering company needs to take legal responsibility only in the case of a problem that occurred in the process of distribution. Safety of the food is put on the suppliers, which are relatively small.

The government and the ruling party reached the above decision yesterday through a party-government consultation at the National Assembly while Kim Jin-pyo, deputy prime minister and minister of Education & Human Resources Development, and Lee Mi-gyung, Uri Party Catering Accident Fact-finding Committee chairman, attended.

Chairperson Lee said, “Big catering companies are mostly distribution-centered businesses, so they take responsibility only for problems concerning distribution. This will be changed so that the catering companies take overall responsibility for meals, and inspect food safety together with food suppliers.

The government and ruling party also decided to convert the system of food suppliers from a declaration system to a licensing system, and hand out a budget for those schools that switch from consignment to direct management. Six pending revision bills on school catering laws will soon be completed within this month.

Besides, Uri party member Kim Tae-hong, the chairperson of the National Assembly Health & Welfare Committee, appeared on a radio program, saying, “If the government’s countermeasures are judged to have been lacking, the ruling and opposition parties will jointly conduct an investigation of state affairs.”

In the meanwhile, at the National Assembly Health & Welfare Committee meeting, Grand National Party member Jeon Jae-hee claimed, “3 cases of food poisoning in school cafeterias operated by CJ Food System have happened since 2002, even without the latest case into count. This is the biggest number in the business.

Jeon especially pointed out that in the recent three years, CJ Food System has received 17 cases of administrative measures after sanitation inspections.

According to Jeon, CJ received administrative guidance and indictment measures for both S high school in Cheongju, Chungbuk Province in 2002, and G high school in Gunsan, Jeonbuk Province in 2003. In 2004, a food poisoning case occurred in S high school on Suwon, Gyeonggi, but because the cause of it was not detected, CJ did not receive any administrative measures.

Jeon revealed, “CJ Food System is the only large enterprise consigned catering company to have more than two food poisoning incidents since 2002.”

Jeon and many other lawmakers urged that a criterion for regulations be prepared, and penalty be strengthened, saying, “Noro Virus, which is being indicated as the cause of this incident, is not included in food poisoning regulations; even if it is detected, related companies can not be punished.”

Minister of Health and Welfare Rhyu Si-min expressed his perplexity at this, saying, “There is no technology that can detect the Noro Virus in advance.”

Kang-Myoung Chang tesomiom@donga.com