With so much public concern over food safety issues in Taiwan, the administration must ensure that students have safe and nutritious lunches at school, Premier Lin Chuan said at the Cabinet meeting today.
School lunches have a large impact on the health of students, Lin said after a briefing by the Council of Agriculture (COA) on promoting the use of local produce in school meals.
In its report, the COA said the Executive Yuan recently implemented a “five rings of food safety” reform program to restore public confidence in agricultural products following a spate of food-related incidents. The council is also increasing publicity on certified agricultural product labels and encouraging schools to use locally grown ingredients that are traceable to their origins.
Starting September 1, the COA will institute safety controls over the fresh produce used in school lunches while mandating schools to provide one or two organic meals per week. Using local ingredients will help enhance children’s health, increase demand for local agricultural products, and educate students on food and farming, the council said.
To ensure safety and sanitation in the entire process from ingredient sourcing to food preparation, central and local authorities will inspect and supervise the relevant processes while the schools will take self-management measures, the COA said.
In particular, the agricultural council will control quality at the source by managing and inspecting the fresh produce, fish and livestock products used in school lunches. As for the food preparation stage, the Ministry of Health and Welfare will inspect the schools’ kitchens and storage sites to see if their preparation methods meet the required standards. The health ministry will as well conduct random inspections on cooked foods and semi-finished and processed products.