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Canteen food jeopardizes Ho Chi Minh City children’s lives

Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 09:48 GMT+7
Canteen food jeopardizes Ho Chi Minh City children’s lives
Ho Chi Minh City kids are pictured enjoying their snacks bought from the canteen during break time at an elementary school.

Ho Chi Minh City children are exposed to life-threatening risks when they eat food and candy of doubtful origin in school canteens, which a doctor warns can cause strokes.

City school canteens now sell food items favored by children at cheap prices, including popping candies, coconut jelly, spiced rice paper, soft drinks, iced colored syrup, and dried squids.

The kids eat their favorite snacks, which can be bought at VND2,000-5,000 (9-24 US cents), without knowing where and how they were made or whether they meet food safety standards.

A canteen staff member at a school revealed kids are currently crazy about stick-shaped dried squids spiced with chilli powder and sugar, and a kind of sour crushed popping candy made of sugar and dried fruit-like particles.

Tuoi Tre has discovered that the Vietnamese labels put on the packets of these foods contain insufficient information on its origin and maker. As a result, health problems have arisen.

Recently a parent reported that her child had developed angular cheilitis, or inflammation of the mouth, as a result of devouring crushed candy wrapped in a plastic tube and on sale at the canteen of PNL Elementary School, located in Go Vap District.

His four classmates, who also ate the candy, contracted thrush and areas of their tongue peeled off, the parent said.

Simple and uninformative instructions written in a foreign language were found on the package, for which there was no Vietnamese translation, Tuoi Tre found.

Another mother confronted the management of a school in Binh Thanh District to protest its sale of suspicious looking snacks after her son had vomited upon eating dried squids purchased from the canteen.

The woman said the squids were packaged in a plastic container with no maker name and the contents were secreting a sort of dark orange liquid.

A doctor has warned against these types of food, even hinting they may be life-threatening.

Nguyen Doan Thanh, a master’s in medicine, said he has seen many unhealthy foods on sale in school canteens or roadside stalls nearby.

“Food items of dubious origin like sour popping candy are very dangerous for one’s health,” Thanh said. “My advice would be: do not eat them.”

Additives and sugar are found in large amounts in these foods, he explained, adding that sugar tends to be quickly converted to fat, creating an excess of the substance in body cavities and thus leading to congestion in blood vessel walls.

He warned that a stroke can occur when excess body fat is transported to heart spaces and therefore adversely affects the heartbeat.

Tuoi Tre

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