In response to rat heads found in students’ meals in institutions located in Nanchang, East China’s Jiangxi Province, and Tangshan, North China’s Hebei Province, the State Council’s Food Safety Office held discussions with the main leaders of the respective local governments on Monday. China Central Television reported on the urgent action taken by the government.
Both incidents have ignited widespread concern and criticism among the Chinese public. On June 1, in Nanchang, a student discovered a rat head in a meal at Jiangxi Industry Polytechnic College, which was initially falsely identified as “duck neck” by the school and the local Nanchang market supervision bureau. It was only after a joint provincial investigation that the truth was unveiled, leading to the revocation of the food operation license of the implicated canteen, along with penalties for other individuals and entities involved.
In the wake of the incident, the human resources and social security authority in Jiangxi initiated a campaign aimed at addressing food safety concerns at vocational and technical colleges, following the exposure of multiple food safety issues within the province.
On October 10, another student reported consuming an object resembling a rat’s head in a cafeteria meal at the North China University of Science and Technology in Tangshan. Subsequently, the university announced the termination of its contract with the catering company due to food safety concerns.
The food safety incident at Jiangxi Industry Polytechnic College has exposed significant shortcomings in local food safety management in Nanchang, a lack of accountability within the authorities responsible for industry management, and an inadequate emergency response, which resulted in a negative societal impact. The lessons drawn from this episode are profound, according to the State Council Food Safety Office.
The Office has urged the Nanchang government to intensively monitor food safety in the city, conduct a comprehensive analysis of the incident, implement a thorough rectification process, and ensure the strict adherence to campus food safety standards. The Office will also conduct on-site inspections and oversee the entire rectification and implementation process in Nanchang.
In discussions with the Tangshan government, the State Council Food Safety Office pointed out that the campus food safety incident at the North China University of Science and Technology has exposed issues such as weak awareness of food safety, a serious lack of responsibility on the part of the university, a lack of industry management by competent authorities, insufficient fulfillment of food safety management at the local level, and ineffective supervision and management. These issues have had a detrimental impact on society.
During the meeting, the Office emphasized the importance of Tangshan fulfilling its food safety responsibilities, learning from this incident, implementing effective rectification measures, and preventing and addressing various risks and hidden dangers. Safeguarding the fundamental standards of campus food safety is paramount, according to the Office.
The Office will also conduct on-site inspections and oversee the entire process to ensure the implementation of rectification measures in Tangshan.
Across schools nationwide, special campaigns have been launched to strictly prevent and control food safety risks.
Analysts have observed that these meetings signify the government’s determination to strengthen food safety within schools. It is deemed necessary to unite all stakeholders and engage the entirety of society to ensure food safety for students comprehensively and consistently. Observers assert that this collective effort will help build a robust defense line for the food safety of students.