Shame that we can’t even prevent food poisoning in schools


Instead of going around thumping their chests that Malaysia has made great advances since independence, the authorities should act against those not doing their work, including sacking them.

Ravinder Singh, Free Malaysia Today

It was recently reported that in Perak alone, over 800 school children have suffered food poisoning so far this year. This whopping figure was disclosed by the Perak State Health Director Dr Juita Ghazalie. She must be exasperated with this state of affairs. On average, that is about 100 children per month.

The other state health directors should emulate Dr Juita and disclose the number of children who have suffered the same fate. It can’t be that only Perak enjoys this reputation.

Regarding the recent Malay College Kuala Kangsar incident, Dr Juita was reported (Star 21-8-16) to have said that preliminary investigations showed a van used to transport food from the kitchen to the dining hall was filthy and maggots were found in the vehicle. Other risk factors were dirty kitchen utensils such as trays, jugs, water dispensers, bowls and plates.

What a shame for a country claiming to be at the doorstep of “fully developed” status by 2020.

School and college canteen uncleanliness is nothing new. Even in the 1970’s there used to be complaints, albeit few. Forty-five years later, things have progressed for the worse, not better. Yet the authorities, and politicians, go around thumping their chests that Malaysia has made great advances since independence. Sure, there are more grand buildings and vehicles, but these are a false yardstick of development.

Food hygiene is a very basic, everyday thing. There are rules and regulations pertaining to the preparation and handling of raw foodstuffs and cooked food. The question that begs an answer is why then does food poisoning happen in our schools so frequently?

Perak Health Committee Chairman Dr Mah Hang Soon’s response was that “the state health Department was looking into the matter and would not hesitate to take serious action against the food handlers responsible for it”. Acting after children have suffered is not good at all. What if a death occurs? Even if no deaths occur, children suffer and miss lessons.

How many surprise visits has Dr Mah made to date to school canteens and kitchens to see for himself, or is he satisfied to manage by remote-control, i.e. by issuing memos to the down lines, and then reading the replies passed up to him? Which down line person will implicate himself for dereliction of duty by stating, for example, that the vans had maggots in them?

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