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Apr 14, 2023 / 10:47

Hanoi strengthens inspection to ensure food safety in school canteens

The Hanoi People's Committee has issued a decision to set up an intersectoral inspection team during the "Action Month for Food Safety 2023," which will run from April 15 to May 15.

Hanoi's authorities have stepped up food safety inspections and supervision in school canteens to prevent food-borne diseases among children and ensure food safety and hygiene standards.

The move has become urgent after Hanoi hospitals reported a significant increase in Covid-19 cases in recent days.

The city's government has asked all district education and training sections to strengthen regular and unexpected inspections to control the origin of food in schools strictly.

The district education and training sections must publicly announce qualified food suppliers to students so that schools can choose those that ensure food safety in accordance with regulations.

Inspectors check food safety at a school kitchen in Bac Tu Liem District. Photo: Lam Nguyen/ The Hanoi Times


According to the city's Health Department, Hanoi set up five inspection teams to check nearly 58 of the city's 4,400 school canteens in the first quarter of 2023. Most met food safety and hygiene requirements, and three that didn't were fined VND250 million ($10,665) each.

When the Phu Cat Primary School kitchen (located in the Quoc Oai district on the outskirts of Hanoi) and student canteen were inspected for food safety in March, the team found numerous problems, including a lack of anti-insect netting.

Meanwhile, Sai Dong Primary School (in Long Bien District) keeps a close eye on the cooking process and food traceability. The kitchen complies with hygiene and food safety regulations, and cooks are fully equipped with masks, gloves, and hats. The school provided the inspection team with all legal documents proving the origin of the food.

All 63 public schools in Long Bien District have kitchens that operate under the model of "Improving the self-management ability of food safety in school canteens". Therefore, the schools have formed food safety self-monitoring groups and assigned tasks to each member to control the origin and quality of the food used by the school kitchens to ensure food safety and hygiene.

With a large number of school canteens in the city, Director of Hanoi Food Safety and Hygiene Sub-Department Dang Thanh Phong stressed that tracing the origin of food has helped ensure food safety in school canteens, reduce food poisoning, and prevent food-borne diseases.

"Localities should inspect and monitor school canteens regularly, and if violations or non-compliance with food safety standards are found, suppliers can be asked to stop supplying food to these canteens," Phong said.

He stressed that school principals and administrators should keep in mind that all food brought into the school should have a clear origin and fully comply with food safety standards. The food delivery process should have invoices, daily food delivery books, and a written agreement between the parties.

In 2022 and 2023, the Hanoi Department of Health developed a model to control food safety in all kitchens of 215 primary schools in ten districts of the city, including Dong Da, Hoan Kiem, Nam Tu Liem, Thanh Xuan, Long Bien, Ba Vi, Dong Anh, Dan Phuong, Phuc Tho, Quoc Oai.

Tran Thi Nhi Ha, director of the department, told The Hanoi Times that the model will set a goal for all school canteens to obtain a certificate of food safety suitability and a commitment to ensure food processing ingredients.

From practical experience, the director said that to improve the effectiveness of food safety management in school kitchens, it is necessary to promote the role of inspection and supervision by authorities, schools, and students' parents.

"Schools must strengthen the regular and irregular supervision role of students' parents and check the origin of food ingredients from suppliers. In addition, they must seriously carry out food sample storage, check the origin of food ingredients, inspect food from pre-processing to consumption, and analyze food samples according to regulations," Ha said.

The director stressed that relevant authorities would continue to focus on checking the process from raw materials to processing, human factors, and especially food traceability at production and delivery.

The Hanoi People's Committee has issued a decision to set up an intersectoral inspection team during the "Action Month for Food Safety 2023," which will run from April 15 to May 15.