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Sunday October 28, 2007

Food poisoning cases increase by 100%

MYT 8:13:18 PM

KOTA BARU: Food poisoning in Malaysia has increased 100% from last year for the period of January till Sept 15, with 67% of such cases confined to primary and secondary school students. 

Despite a perceived higher awareness about food hygiene, the country continues to be plagued with food poisoning cases. There were 11,226 cases from January till Sept 15 this year, a 100% increase compared to the same period last year. 

Health Ministry's Health Education Division director Abdul Jabar Ahmad said Selangor had the highest number of food poisoning cases, followed by Perak, Terengganu and Kelantan. 

"The alarming concern is that 67% out of 11,226 victims of food poisoning were schoolchildren," he said, after launching the national food safety campaign for schools at the teachers resource centre here. 

To address the issue, the ministry would hold roadshows, exhibitions, pop quizes and enrol artistes to help generate awareness about proper food preparation and the importance of nutrition when cooking food. 

Besides that, school canteen operators would be monitored closely while consumers must also be alert of hygiene when it comes to food. 

Abdul Jabar said a questionnaire would be distributed to all schoolchildren in the country soon to gauge their level of awareness about food safety and preparation. 

Kelantan education department's student affairs unit head Ahmad Yani Mohamad said the education authorities had terminated the services of six canteen operators this year. 

This underlines the department's commitment to food safety, he said. Ahmad Yani also urged the local authorities to check the status of hawkers trading outside the school compound to ensure they do not sell sub-par standard food and drinks to students.

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