06/17/2013, 00.00
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Sichuan: 386 pupils suffer food poisoning at school

Students at the Meishan Yingtian School, which offers kindergarten, primary, junior and high school level education, suffer from food poisoning and end up in hospital. In the case of 50, their conditions is not good, but their lives are not at risk. Food safety is increasingly becoming a major public issue.

Chengdu (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A new food scandal has hit Chinese schools. Some 386 students at the Meishan Yingtian School in Southwest China's Sichuan Province were hospitalised with food poisoning-like symptoms.

On Saturday, 231 of them were still in hospital under observation. The conditions of another 50 were not good, but their lives were not in danger, China's press stressed.

The school is located in Dongpo District, Meishan, an area once known for pig farming.

The poisoning apparently took place during lunch hour last Thursday. By the afternoon, the children were hospitalised with severe diarrhoea.

The Meishan Yingtian School has over 1,300 students in its kindergarten, primary, junior and high-school grades.

Food inspection authorities have started collecting food samples for testing. Local authorities have also ordered a general inspection of the city's schools. Two depots have also seized containing precooked food for school cafeterias.

Since the families of hospitalised children show no symptoms, investigators are therefore certain that the food poisoning took place at school.

Food safety remains one of China's toughest challenges. Food production and preservation have suffered from accidental chemical contamination in recent years with, for example, meat found containing pesticides; milk powder tainted with melamine and pre-cooked food laced with antibiotics.

Ordinary Chinese have become more careful following such incidents. In recent weeks, some people have publicly voiced concerns about whether they would ever get up after sitting at the dinner table. The blog on which such concerns were posted was eventually shut down by the authorities.


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