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School Food Safety Facilities Lacking

Posted August. 17, 2006 03:34,   


After suffering the worst-ever mass food poisoning incident in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development inspected school meal facilities and food cleanliness in 9,186 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide last month. According to the result released on August 16, many schools were not equipped with a sanitary system, heightening the possibility of another food poisoning incident.

The result showed that among 8,024 schools (87.4%) that run their own school lunch programs, and 1,161 (12.6%) schools that have school meal providers, 6,982, or 76 percent, did not have a closed room where food ingredients are washed and sterilized. Nor did they have a separate cook room and a washing room, a circumstance where foods are highly likely to be contaminated.

In particular, more than a half of the schools (57.5%) did not have a closed room where all the sterilizing work is done. Worse yet, most of the schools were not equipped with refrigerators (77.7%) or thermos boxes (89.2%).

Only 55 percent of the schools cooked with washed and sterilized food ingredients. Schools that have meal providers (17%) had 2.7 times higher rate of using food not certified by Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) than those having their own lunch programs (6.4%). HACCP is a systematic preventative approach to food safety that addresses physical, chemical and biological hazards as a means of prevention.

About 90 percent of the schools used tap water to cook. But the rest 10 percent, or 922 schools, used underground water as most of them are located in rural areas without tap water. Among them, however, 4.4 percent used underground water without going through chlorination, raising the danger of food poisoning by norovirus.