To ensure food safety for children, the Council of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) yesterday said it has collaborated with elementary schools to provide Good Agricultural Practice (GAP)--certified vegetables for use in school lunches.
The GAP label is a certification mechanism meant to help consumers verify the safety of vegetables and fruit.
The label guarantees that vegetables and fruit were grown in natural conditions using reasonable pest prevention measures, harvested during safe harvest periods and have passed safety examinations.
The labels also provide information on the source of the produce, including the location where the vegetables and fruit were grown and the entity responsible for their production.
Some elementary schools in Taipei City and New Taipei City (新北市) have signed contracts to provide school lunches with GAP-certified fruit and vegetables, starting from the second semester this year, the AFA said, adding that eight elementary schools in Taoyuan County have also signed onto the scheme.
Aside from quelling parents’ worries over the safety of their children’s school lunches, the scheme also boosts consumption of local produce in Taoyuan County, an important growing area for leafy green vegetables, the AFA said.
Taoyuan currently has about 284 hectares of farmland devoted to leafy greens and 33 agricultural production and sales groups with GAP certification, the AFA said.
Consuming GAP-certified fruit and vegetables from a local agricultural production and sales entity is beneficial to the environment because it reduces the distance that produce is shipped from farm to consumer, the agency said, adding that it would promote the model in other counties to encourage a safe and responsible food supply system for school children.