Parents and Taipei City councilors were outraged this week to discover that Hsin Hsin Food Box Co, a contractor for Taipei school lunch programs, is using the same truck that delivers meals for students in the morning to transport garbage in the afternoon.
Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Chou Wei-yu (周威佑) received a complaint from a parent, who said he witnessed a Hsin Hsin truck transporting garbage and the next day the same truck delivered meals packed in cartons to schools around Taipei.
“The trash bags in the truck had liquids and soupy stuff spilling out. It was really disgusting,” Chou said.
Hsin Hsin Food Box Co is supposedly one of the old names in the business and certified by the city to supply cooked meals for the school-lunch program.
“This is the lunch program for our kids and certified as a ‘Good Qualify Company’ by the city’s Department of Health. Who would dare to eat this food?” Chou asked.
Chou said that, following the tip from the parent, he sent an office assistant to the company’s central kitchen facility in Nangang in the afternoon.
The assistant did witness one truck, with a license plate beginning with the letters “DT,” carrying a full load of garbage, with vegetable leaves and other food scraps around the bottom of the cargo bay.
He followed the truck that evening as it disposed of the food rubbish.
Hsin Hsin owner Wang Pai-ching (王派清) defended his firm, saying the truck in question was a “scrap vehicle” used for delivering meals to schools in the morning and bringing food waste and leftovers back to the company.
A waste disposal company then comes around to collect the garbage in the late afternoon, he said, explaining that the process conforms to the city’s “No garbage on the ground” policy.
The tossed-out food and leftovers were “only placed temporarily on that scrap vehicle,” Wang said.
Chou said Hsin Hsin has been around a long time and Wang is the chairman of the meal-suppliers businesses association.
The company delivers lunches to 20 junior-high and seven elementary schools around Taipei, supplying meals to more than 10,000 students.
The company provides the lunch program to one-third of the 60 junior high schools in Taipei.
Chou said the company’s “waste disposal/food delivery truck” had transported lunches to Bei-An Junior High and Hsi-Hu Junior High on Sept. 28.
“No one is overseeing the process. The truck is delivering school meals and also transporting garbage,” Chou said, criticizing the Taipei City Government for lax oversight.
He said the company’s trucks all have “HACCP Certification for Approved Training Course” stickers from the Taipei City Department of Health, which gave the impression the company maintains good health standards.
Lin Chi-hung (林奇宏), an official at the Taipei City Department of Health, said the evidence was clear.
“We investigated immediately, and sent inspectors to check the company,” Lin said.
“We did find the company trucks carrying garbage and they did not dispose of it right away. Our office has demanded the company to make changes immediately,” Lin said.