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School meals in Kanagawa found tainted with bugs, plastic fragments

Meals served at two public middle schools were contaminated
Plastic and bugs have been found in meals served at two public middle schools in the town of Oiso dating back to last year (NHK)

KANAGAWA (TR) – Officials have found that lunches served at two schools in the town of Oiso dating back to last year were contaminated with plastic fragments and bugs, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports (Sept. 16).

The results of a town probe revealed the presence of bugs, hair, plastic fragments, glass and other substances in some 100 school lunches served at two public middle schools since January of last year in Oiso. The survey was conducted following reports of an unusually large amount of leftover meals at the schools.

Town officials found that there were leftovers 26 percent of the time on average, with that figure climbed as high as 55 percent on some occasions.

Meals at the school are contracted out by town officials to a Tokyo-based meal provider, which prepares the meals at a factory in the prefecture, according to internal documents used by town officials.

The town of Oiso pays the provider some 33 million yen each year under the contract. The tainted meals were discovered in lunches served at the two schools between January, 2016 and July of this year.

“The contaminants appear to have ended up in some of the meals after they were served,” the meal provider told the Yomiuri.

A nutritionist employed by the town decides on food ingredients and menus for the reduced-salt meals, which were previously criticized for having “cold sides dishes” and being “flavorless.”

“Fragment in my classmate’s rice”

“[There was a] plastic fragment in my classmate’s rice,” a student at one of the schools told Nippon News Network (Sept. 16). “There’s lots of contaminants in the meals, so it’s pretty scary unless you give everything a once-over, including the side dishes,” the student said.

“Lots of students aren’t eating the meals after rumors spread that they’re tainted,” a parent told the Yomiuri (Sept. 16). Teachers have also reported finding foreign substances in their meals.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Takashi Nakategawa, the head of the Oiso Board of Education, described the study on the tainted meals as incomplete. “I would like to devise a meal service that meets the needs of children,” the chief said, according to NHK (Sept. 20).