52 college students in Malaysia fall ill after cafeteria meal

A total of 52 students from the Gopeng Matriculation College suffered food poisoning after eating chicken at the cafeteria.

roti canai, school lunch, kuala lumpur, malaysia

roti canai, school lunch, kuala lumpur, malaysia

Perak Health Department director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said some of the students started showing symptoms of vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, fever and abdominal pain early on Sunday.

“The students sought outpatient treatment at Kampar Hospital and nearby government and private clinics.

“All are in stable condition and under close observation,” she said here yesterday.

Dr Juita said stool samples, oral swabs of the food handlers and samples of the food had been taken and sent for analysis to find out the cause of any possible contamination.

She said the cafeteria was ordered closed with immediate effect, pending the results of the tests.

The cafeteria operator, who had only just taken over the contract to supply food, has been slapped with a RM1,000 fine under Regulation 34 of the Food Act.

On Wednesday, some 53 students at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar went down with food poisoning after having meals at the dining hall.

1300 sickened in 17 outbreaks: Korea has a school lunch Salmonella problem

More than 500 students at five middle and high schools in northern Seoul came down with salmonella poisoning last week, as did more than 200 students at schools in North Gyeongsang Province, Daegu and Busan.

korea.school.lunchIn total, 17 cases of mass salmonella poisoning had been reported across the nation as of Tuesday, with 1,284 people infected. That was a 34-percent increase compared to last summer and up 52 percent compared to the 2011-2015 average.

An editorial in The Korea Herald says the government’s 5.6 trillion-won ($5 billion) free school meals scheme has been found to be supplying improper lunches to many of the nation’s 6.14 million students.

A government task force inspected between April and July some 2,400 food suppliers and lunch operators and visited 274 of the nation’s 11,700 elementary, middle and high schools that provide students with hot lunches.

The team’s findings, released Tuesday, were disappointing and shocking. It has uncovered a total of 677 violations of the relevant law on the production, sale and consumption of foodstuffs used in school meals.

The findings suggest disregard for food safety and quality is rampant. The number of violations would have been much larger if the task force had visited more schools and inspected more companies.

In one case, a company in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province, washed moldy potatoes with hygienically inappropriate underground water and shuffled them with eco-friendly ones to supply them as organic products.

In another case, a company was found to have used frozen beef that had passed its expiration date by as many as 156 days.  

The investigation also laid bare corrupt practices between schools and food firms. Many schools were found to have awarded contracts to food suppliers in an opaque manner.

Four large food companies – Dongwon, Daesang, CJ Freshway and Pulmuone – are suspected of having provided kickbacks to nutritionists at 3,000 schools to win foodstuff supply contracts.

Many schools were found to lack the ability to inspect the quality of the ingredients provided by suppliers. And at many schools, monitoring of kitchen sanitation was lax.

In light of these and other problems, it would be strange if food poisoning did not occur at schools.

To enhance the quality and safety of school meals, stern punishments should be meted out to those who violate the relevant regulations.

It would be also necessary to encourage parents to keep tabs on school kitchen sanitation. Kitchen managers need to train food service workers to ensure that their kitchens are maintained safely and free from germs and bacteria.


US school lunches safe

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases boneless and ground beef for distribution to recipients through federal nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch Program, which represents 93% of the overall volume.

lunchlady.simpsonsApproximately every 2,000 lb (ca. 907 kg) of boneless beef and 10,000 lb (ca. 4,535 kg) of ground beef are designated a “lot” and tested for Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, standard plate count organisms (SPCs), E. coli, and coliforms. Any lot of beef positive for E. coli O157:H7 or for Salmonella, or any beef with concentrations of organisms exceeding critical limits for SPCs (100,000 CFU g–1), E. coli (500 CFU g–1), or coliforms (1,000 CFU g–1) is rejected for purchase by AMS and must be diverted from federal nutrition assistance programs. From July 2011 through June 2014, 537,478,212 lb (ca. 243,795,996 kg) of boneless beef and 428,130,984 lb (ca. 194,196,932 kg) of ground beef were produced for federal nutrition assistance programs.

Of the 230,359 boneless beef samples collected over this period, 82 (0.04%) were positive for E. coli O157:H7, 924 (0.40%) were positive for Salmonella, 222 (0.10%) exceeded the critical limit for SPCs, 69 (0.03%) exceeded the critical limit for E. coli, and 123 (0.05%) exceeded the critical limit for coliforms. Of the 46,527 ground beef samples collected over this period, 30 (0.06%) were positive for E. coli O157:H7, 360 (0.77%) were positive for Salmonella, 20 (0.04%) exceeded the critical limit for SPCs, 22 (0.05%) exceeded the critical limit for E. coli, and 17 (0.04%) exceeded the critical limit for coliforms.

Cumulatively, these data suggest beef produced for the AMS National School Lunch Program is done so under an adequate food safety system, as indicated by the low percentage of lots that were pathogen positive or exceeded critical limits for indicator organisms.

Microbiological testing results of boneless and ground beef purchased for the national school lunch program, 2011 to 2014

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 9, September 2015, pp. 1624-1769

Doerscher, Darin R.; Lutz, Terry L.; Whisenant, Stephen J.; Smith, Kerry R.; Morris, Craig A.; Schroeder, Carl M.


Why cafeteria food is the best

I sorta gotta agree with New York Times health guru Jane E. Brody when she writes that many parents undoubtedly think they are doing the best for their children by having them bring lunch from home instead of eating the lunches served in school. But recent studies clearly prove them wrong.

belushi.cafeteriaThe meals we serve in Sorenne’s school tuck shop are low in salt, high in protein and safety. And we’re always trying to do better.

But I volunteer at the school enough to know what most kids get for lunch and tea (Australian for morning break and afternoon break) and can agree with research cited by Brody that home-packed lunches are likely to be considerably less nourishing than the meals offered in schools that abide by current nutrition guidelines for the National School Lunch Program.

That program is, distressingly, increasingly under attack. The requirements for less salt and only whole grains were already reversed in the final federal spending bill approved by the Senate on Dec. 13.

But the program must not continue to be undermined, and more schools should be encouraged to participate. Nearly 32 million of the more than 50 million children in public elementary and secondary schools currently eat school lunches, most of them provided through the program. For about 60 percent of those children, half or more of their daily calories are consumed at lunch.

Those numbers, along with the recent findings on meals brought from home, make the contents of lunches served in school especially important to the health of America’s children, now and in the future.

One study, conducted in 12 elementary and intermediate schools in Houston, found that compared with what is served in school, lunches brought from home contained fewer servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and milk than the national program mandates.

Whether it’s school lunches or lunches made at home, focus on the basics and give kids the nutritional edge they need to develop.

What’s lurking in your kids’ lunch bags?

Following Chapman, which I seem to be doing more frequently lately (and that is preferred) I had my own thoughts, published in Canada, on school lunches.

simpsons.lunch.lady.09According to Doug Powell, former professor of food safety at the University of Guelph, reusable lunch bags make attractive breeding grounds for germs. “The risk of illness is low, but it’s difficult to quantify,” he says. “Most foodborne illness goes unreported. What you want to do is get ahead of it and be preventative. That means cleaning thoroughly every day.”

Since most schools don’t offer refrigeration for kids’ lunches, an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack inside (or in a pinch, a frozen water bottle) can help keep foods cool until lunchtime.

“Any food can have a risk, but some foods are riskier than others,” says Powell. Types of foods that Powell says are more likely to carry bacteria include cantaloupe (its soft, porous skin can be a breeding ground for germs), raw sprouts (they can easily become contaminated with E. coli and salmonella in the high-moisture environment they grow in) and meats from the deli counter (deli slicers are hard to clean, so listeria can build up over time).

lunch.box.jan.14While kids might be fine with skipping the cantaloupe and sprouts, they might not be quite as happy about giving up their lunch meats. If you’d rather not avoid the deli counter altogether, Powell recommends being extra careful about keeping deli meats refrigerated and not storing them for more than two to three days.

I use a frozen water bottle along with an ice pack.

Video shows apparent maggot in Tennessee school lunch

Maggots reportedly found in school lunches at Overton High School have students concerned about their safety when it comes to their daily meals. Students say if there was one, there could be many.

In the Instagram video, you can see a student’s mystery meal waiting to be eaten when an apparent maggot pops out and squirms around on the plate.

Shelby County Schools sent WMC Action News 5 the following statement regarding the incident Monday:

“A student reported that they found what appeared to be an insect on their meal. School and district staff have since conducted a thorough inspection of the cafeteria and kitchen to ensure that no other meals were contaminated. They found that no additional food items were compromised.”

However, on Monday another Overton High School student reported to our newsroom there were more maggots found in a school lunch.
WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lizards and worms should not be on the school lunch menu in India, or elsewhere

Rice and lentils was the free lunch on Aug. 22 at the Government Model Senior Secondary school in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.

sprouted-lentilsTeachers took a look at the meal.

They found worms.

Lunch was not served. Seven hundred students reportedly went home hungry after their school day.

India’s free school lunch program is the largest in the world. The program was started in the mid-1990s with two goals: to fight chronic hunger and child malnutrition and to increase school enrollment and attendance.

Sprouts still suck; Globe and Mail is wrong to blindly promote them, especially for school kids

In 2005, as I was flying from Toronto to Kansas City to hang out with the love of my life in Manhattan (Kansas) I’d met a couple of weeks before, over 700 people in Ontario (that’s in Canada) were sickened with Salmonella in raw mung bean sprouts.

sprout.apple.aug.14After the German E. coli O104 outbreak that killed 53 people in 2011and sickened over 4,000, along, with the ridiculous public statements and blatant disregard for public safety taken by sandwich artist Jimmy John’s in the U.S., I figured we really needed to publish something.

The basic conclusions:

• raw sprouts are a well-documented source of foodborne illness;

• risk communication about raw sprouts has been inconsistent; and,

• continued outbreaks question effectiveness of risk management strategies and producer compliance

We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprouts-associated-outbreaks.

Sprouts present a unique food safety challenge compared to other fresh produce, as the sprouting process provides optimal conditions for the growth and proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. The sprout industry, regulatory agencies, and the academic community have been collaborating to improve the microbiological safety of raw sprouts, including the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), establishing guidelines for safe sprout production, and chemical disinfection of seed prior to sprouting. However, guidelines and best practices are only as good as their implementation. The consumption of raw sprouts is considered high-risk, especially for young, elderly and immuno-compromised persons (FDA, 2009).

But, leave it to Canada’s self-proclaimed paper of record to push sprouts on kids in their back-to-school lunch feature.

School food safety has improved, Dubai food inspectors say

The quality and safety of school meals has greatly improved in recent years, say Dubai Municipality food inspectors.

The authority had focused on improving the standards of suppliers and catering companies, and said it was pleased with the results.

dubai.school.lunch“Suppliers know that if they do not comply with the regulations we will not give them a licence to supply to schools,” said Sultan Al Taher, head of food inspection at Dubai Municipality.

“But overall I’m happy with how they have responded to meeting our requirements, and the level is much better than it was 15 to 20 years ago.”

He said food-safety standards would not be compromised despite Dubai’s expansion in recent years, and its continued growth as it geared up to host Expo 2020.

Ayesha Al Mukhayat, senior food health officer at the municipality, said there had been a significant improvement in standards at Dubai schools.

“Our focus is on the suppliers of food products to schools in the emirate,” said Ms Al Mukhayat. “We work with them to make sure they meet our standards, particularly in how they store hot and cold foods.”

The principal food-inspection officer at the municipality, Bobby Krishna, said: “We want to encourage healthier eating in schools but that comes with its own challenges in terms of keeping food safe.

“Things like fresh fruit and vegetables are healthy but they must also be consumed sooner. In general, processed foods can keep longer because they are cooked but raw fruit and vegetables should be eaten sooner.”

£18000 fine and costs; food firm which supplied UK primary schools had ‘filthy conditions’

Boston Magistrates heard on March 24 that Food for Thought GB Ltd admitted 12 different food hygiene charges involving raw meat being stored next to cooked ready-to-eat ham, dirty cups being supplied to a school, dirty plastic bowls and colanders, dirty and mould-stained Unknowncutting boards, dirty floors, flaking paint and dirty walls, dirty cleaning cloths and inadequate labelling of food.

They were fined £13,800 and ordered to pay £4,300 costs.

Magistrates reduced the potential fine by 30 per cent in recognition of the guilty pleas. A victim surcharge of £130 was also made.

Environmental Health Officers from Boston Borough Council visited the premises at Unit B8, Boston Trade Park, Norfolk Street, following an alert from colleagues at South Holland District Council.

There were concerns about the cleanliness of equipment supplied to a school in the South Holland area by Food 4 Thought GB Ltd.

A visit to the unit on October 4 found poor standards of hygiene, controls and management.

Caroline Clark and Moira Clark, both company directors who were on site at that time, agreed that the standards were not acceptable for premises producing food for vulnerable school children and agreed to deep clean the premises over the weekend.

On October 8 a re-inspection was undertaken and the environmental health officer noted that although a deep clean had been carried out there were still outstanding detailed cleaning issues to be addressed before the premises could be considered to be of an acceptable standard.

Magistrates expressed surprise that someone with even a basic knowledge of food hygiene had not identified issues before the visit.