New school-meal tracker shows Taipei parents what their children are eating

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - Page 3

The Taipei City Government yesterday launched an online food-tracing platform to provide parents with information on the sources of ingredients used in school meals in the wake of recent food scares.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) announced the official launch of the platform at a press conference attended by Department of Health Director Lin Chi-hung (林奇宏), Department of Education Commissioner Ding Ya-wen (丁亞雯), school meal providers and parent representatives.

“The platform will primarily target school meal providers in its initial operational stage and so far about 20 lunch suppliers have joined the program, which will cover meal services to a total of 145 elementary and junior-high schools in the city,” Hau said.

“The platform currently provides information on the origin of 5,174 ingredients for 19,008 dishes prepared by 284 food suppliers,” Hau said.

Hau said parents in the city paid as much as NT$210 million (US$7.08 million) a year for their children’s school meals, so he hoped the new Web site would create a win-win situation for them, as well as schools and meal providers.

Parents can log onto www. after 10:30am each school day to see photographs of dishes being served that day, Ding said.

“They can also have access to information regarding the supplier preparing the meals, the origin of the ingredients, as well as nutrition facts and the calorie count of each dish,” Ding said.

Lin said the Web site was aimed at reinforcing food supply-chain management, ensuring food security and improving the city’s contingency mechanisms in the event of a food scare.

“The city government has made it a requirement that school meal providers that want to receive an ‘OK Certification’ must join the program,” Lin said.

The “OK Certification” is issued by the health department to business establishments that have met rigid standards in terms of environmental hygiene, raw material quality and personnel management.

“That requirement will be included in contracts between schools and meal suppliers next year. We will also include more types of products — such as lunch boxes, imported beef and fruits and vegetables — into the database by the end of this year,” Lin said.