PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - A total of 5,265 cases of food poisoning in the country were caused by food prepared at school or hostel canteens, says the Health Ministry.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the number made up 43 per cent of the 12,122 food poisoning cases reported nationwide this year.
"The ministry is seriously looking into this matter as it can affect learning in schools," he said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Subramaniam said food poisoning cases involving school and hostel canteens nationwide had been on the rise since 2010.
In 2010, 3,822 cases were recorded, going up to 3,959 cases in 2011.
The number rose again to 4,305 cases in 2012 and 5,017 last year.
"Food poisoning is often associated with unhygienic food handling.
"Last year, 16,399 canteens and hostel kitchens were checked and from that number, 246 were ordered to close due to poor hygiene."
In July this year, 9,780 canteens and hostel kitchens were checked and 98 closed down due to the same offence.
In an effort to combat food poisoning in schools, the national Clean, Safe and Healthy Canteen Contest was held.
"The contest acknowledges canteens and hostel eating halls that maintain their level of hygiene.
"It is hoped that this effort will reduce the incidents of food poisoning among students, who are the country's asset," he said.
A total of 95 schools took part in the contest this year.