Cooked Food Programme contracts in residential schools terminated if food poisoning occurs

The ministry would include that clause in the contract for food operators and suppliers, to be effective from June 1.

Mahdzir speaks to some students at Sekolah Menengah Sains Kubang Pasu today, April 2, 2017. - fotoBERNAMA | Astro Awani
The Education Ministry will immediately terminate the services of contractors under the Cooked Food Programme in residential schools if they are found to be the source of food poisoning cases.

Its minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the ministry would include that clause in the contract for food operators and suppliers, as part of the three scopes for improvement and specifications for these contractors, to be effective from June 1.

"Previously, we would set up a special committee to investigate such cases and the investigation would go through several assessment stages.

"But after this, the contractors who have been confirmed by the Health Ministry to have caused food poisoning will have their contracts terminated immediately," he said after making a special visit to Sekolah Menengah Sains Kubang Pasu, near here, today.

There are currently 1,310 food contracts for residential and day schools, and rural hostels.

Mahdzir said the ministry had to take that step to prevent food poisoning cases from recurring, with 98 cases last year, an increase of 35 from the previous year.

"Investigations conducted by the Health Ministry found that among the causes of the problem was food which was prepared in the hostel kitchens," he said.

Also improved is the criteria for the appointment of food managers and supervisors, depending on the category of the schools. For instance, for schools in the A category which have more than 600 students, the food managers must have a diploma in the relevant field and three years' work experience in food technology.

"The ministry has also decided to give contractors the opportunity to extend their contract for food supply from two to three years, subject to their performance and the recommendation of the schools," he said.

Mahdzir added that the ministry was also upgrading the safety standards for food preparation in schools through the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Certification Pilot Programme for the kitchens of dining halls in fully-residential schools (SBP).

The programme is a collaboration between the Education Ministry and the Health Ministry, involving three SBPs, namely Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah in Putrajaya, Sekolah Menengah Sains Kubang Pasu and Sekolah Seri Puteri, Cyberjaya before it is extended to other SBPs in the country.

The GMP certification is given to food premises which observe the food safety control system through good practices to produce food which is safe and of quality.

Earlier, in his speech, Mahdzir said the ministry had allocated RM5 million to be distributed to 36,000 poor students under the SBP Special Project.

He said for SBPs in Perlis, Kedah and Penang, RM401,564 had been given to 906 poor students to lighten the burden of their families.

He also announced a maintenance allocation of RM1.67 million to 69 SBPs, as well as RM50,000 given to Sekolah Menengah Sains Kubang Pasu for maintenance works. -- Bernama