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Chinese parents clash with police over claims Chengdu school served kids mouldy food

ABC News logo ABC News 4 days ago

Parents from the school posted images online of spoiled food they claimed they found in the canteen. © Provided by ABC News Parents from the school posted images online of spoiled food they claimed they found in the canteen. Parents have staged a protest outside a high school in China's south-western province after allegedly discovering their children had been fed expired and rotting food from the canteen.

The parents of students at Chengdu No.7 Experimental School reportedly discovered the issues with the lunches after wandering into the canteen during a visit to the school, the BBC reported.

They took photos of what they found there and posted them to Chinese social media, where they were widely shared.

A report from The Guardian cited one social media post from a parent saying that a doctor who examined their child believed they had been eating rotten food over a prolonged period of time.

While the hashtag translating to "Chengdu No.7 Experimental School" was reportedly viewed more than 200 million times on Weibo as of Wednesday, most posts including pictures and videos of the protest and the food have now been censored.

However, several videos showing the protest outside the school gates have since been reposted on YouTube.

Chengdu's police force said on its Weibo account that 12 of the parents were arrested during the incident.

The school apologised for the situation and vowed to stop using its current food services provider.

But local health officials said on their official Weibo account on Friday that it appeared the school had nothing to be sorry about.

In the message, Yuan Xiaoling, the director of the Wenjiang District Health Bureau, said tests conducted on the sick children and food samples from the canteen showed "no abnormal indicators related to food-borne disease".

"The two disease control and prevention centres carried out an epidemiological investigation and anal swab sampling, and took samples of the dishes left in the school canteen, and the test results were negative," the director said.

District officials had earlier hit out at "rumours" about the incident on their Weibo account, including the claim that the children had "serious health problems".

A staff member from Chengdu No.7 Experimental School, who refused to disclose their name, told the ABC that the matter was being managed by authorities.

"We are actively handling the matter under the leadership of the Government, and will announce the result to the public as soon as possible," she said.

Child safety a particularly sensitive issue

According to a statement published on the high school's website, the canteen has been praised by provincial authorities as a model canteen.

Health and food safety incidents affecting children are particularly sensitive in China and have been known to spark massive public outrage.

A Chinese rabies vaccine scandal in July last year, where manufacturer Changsheng Biotechnology was found to have fabricated records, caused widespread anger both on social media and in the pages of the country's government-controlled newspapers.

The death of six infants from melamine-tainted milk in a contamination scandal in 2008 led to public distrust in dairy products in China that has continued to this day.

Many Chinese parents took to social media to vent their frustration over the significant concerns over food safety in China.

"Our children have to go through a series of [food and health] safety issues to reach the age of 18, from [issues related to] infant formula, vaccines, school violence, gutter oil and food safety," wrote one Weibo user with the nickname Nanjiangfeifei.

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