China Daily reports that city authorities have threatened to close schools that fail to meet strict new hygiene standards, brought in after a series of food poisoning cases. Chengdu Municipal Education Bureau in Sichuan Province yesterday issued an emergency circular calling for improved efforts to ensure food safety in the city’s kindergartens, and primary and high schools.
Kindergarten, primary and high school canteens that fail to meet hygiene standards will be closed and can reopen only after making improvements, the circular said. The bureau is to send 38 groups of supervisors to districts, cities and counties under Chengdu’s administration over the next week to ensure the new rules are followed. Last week, pupils at Dunyi Primary School, in Wangsi township near Chengdu, started vomiting after lunch in the school canteen.
As of yesterday afternoon, 66 pupils were in hospital diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis. There was also a food poisoning case at Tashui Junior High School in Anxian, Sichuan, which affected more than 60 students. And a total of 606 pupils and teachers became ill after lunch at Chongzhou City Experimental Primary School canteen.
The bacterium that caused the food poisoning outbreak here was later identified as shigella sonnei, which causes dysentery. After this outbreak, parents complained that the local government had been slow to admit the scale of the outbreak. Also this month, about 1,000 of some 1,300 students at Junle Town Central School in Pengzhou, another city under Chengdu’s administration, ate cold soybeans and soup made of fatty meat and potatoes at the school canteen. Many were ill afterwards.
Three of the 38 hospitalized students were diagnosed as suffering from food poisoning that resulted from shigella sonnei.