Don’t milk the school milk scheme

Recently, repeated cases of food poisoning among schoolchildren after consuming milk under the school milk scheme forced authorities to put a temporary halt to this scheme. However, the scheme resumed in June – following checks and assurances that the milk scheme was up to standard.

Unfortunately, food poisoning incidents are surfacing again in spite of the additional precautions taken by the Government. 57 students in one school in Bachok, and another 60 students in Baling were reported to have been affected following the consumption of milk in their schools. These children complained of stomach ache and vomiting and were given medical treatment at nearby clinics.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has been calling for the scheme to be halted since the 1980s when, almost every year, food poisoning cases linked to school milk were already surfacing. Unfortunately, no action was taken and schoolchildren continue to be affected.

The Education Ministry should take firm action and scrap the school milk scheme permanently. Children included in school meal programmes could be encouraged to drink water instead and be provided with nutritious, freshly-prepared meals as a substitute.

CAP calls for an immediate halt to the milk scheme for schools throughout the country as the safety of the milk cannot be guaranteed. A case of severe food poisoning may result in death. Children, with their more delicate immune systems, would be more vulnerable, compared to adults. It should not take a loss of a child’s life to occur before concrete action is taken.

Pus, pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones are some substances found in milk. Read about these toxic pollutants found in milk in the CAP Guide, What They Don't Tell You About Milk