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Palm oil and unhealthy fats: Why Ukraine's schoolchildren consume it

Author : Olena Holubeva

In Ukraine, children of the 1-4 grades are provided with the free meals at school.
21:06, 26 July 2018

Read the original text at 112.ua.

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Recently, an enterprise that supplied defective products to the school canteens was detected in Kyiv, and a criminal case was opened. State Products Control Service is also concerned about the quality of food in schools and kindergartens. The examination has shown that the company fed schoolchildren with a product containing 93% of non-dairy fats. Following the standards, such a product has nothing to do with butter. The product supplied by the company was almost 40% cheaper than the oil, which the company was obliged to supply in accordance with its obligations. The leaders of the company put the money in their own pocket. We are talking about a great sum: for 2016-2017 the company has received 154 thousand USD for the purchase of oil for the schoolchildren.

Related: Police investigates case on food poisoning of 15 children in Luhansk region

Representatives of the State Products Control Service has noted that until recently their actions were limited to some extent: “Certainly, these restrictions have affected the responsiveness of the State Consumer Service and the frequency of inspections of school and pre-school institutions. Under the law, high-risk business entities, including food units that organize children's nutrition, were routinely tested no more than once in two years. And the institution was warned 10 days before the inspection.”

“The situation with the falsification of the nutrition products is going too far in Ukraine. Children at schools and kindergartens are forced to eat them. The aim of our service is to check the dishonest businessmen to prevent the sale of counterfeit products,” said Oleh Ruban, head of the main department of the State Consumer Protection Service of Ukraine.

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According to him, falsification is most common in such categories of food products as butter and meat products. “Dairy fats in butter are replaced with vegetable, as a rule, palm oil. Two cases were registered in Kyiv in the past year. In cutlets, the content of minced meat is often decreased, it is replaced with bread,” Ruban said.

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State Products Control Service has reported that eight kindergartens of Kyiv have got spread, 50% consisting of non-dairy fats. The laboratory tests conducted in the Mykolayiv region have revealed 82 discrepancies in food products from the kindergartens and schools. In 39 samples of dairy products non-milk fats were found, in 7 samples of plant products, the content of nitrates was exceeded, in 9 samples of dairy products mold fungi and yeast were found. In 26 samples of ready-made meals and dairy products, bacteria of E. coli were found. Vegetables with nitrates were found in school kitchens in the Volyn region. In the Chernihiv region, in connection with an outbreak of acute intestinal infection, 130 kg of pork, chicken, sausages, and dairy products without labeling were discovered.

Suppliers often violate the requirements of the products delivery. They often use one car to transport meat, butter, and milk. And this can cause food poisoning. Another problem is that the food is tasteless, and the children refuse to eat it.

In Ukraine, children of the 1-4 grades are provided with the free meals at school. After the 4th grade, free meals are given to the privileged groups (about 10% of the total number of schoolchildren). In Kyiv, about 0,5 USD per day is allocated for a schoolchild's meals from the city budget. This is about 11,5 million USD per year.

Related: Ukraine among top 10 countries that spend the most on food

In cases that lead to acute poisoning, diseases, the danger of poor-quality food is obvious. But the consequences that can manifest themselves with time are no less dangerous. And this happens in the period of growth and development of the body.

Hydrogenized fats and trans-isomers of fatty acids, which replace milk fats in butter, as well as are widely used in the manufacture of confectionery products, increase the level of cholesterol in the blood, provoke the development of atherosclerosis, vascular thrombosis, heart disease, obesity. Trans-isomers of fatty acids, which since 2005 are banned in the US, and also banned in Scandinavian countries, in addition to cardiovascular system diseases, provoke cancer.

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Educational institutions themselves develop an approximate two-week menu, take into account the norms of protein, fat and carbohydrate content, in accordance with Resolution No. 1591. They need to be coordinated with State Products Control Service. The parents should make sure that their children consume a daily portion of food at school. Such a portion should be kept marked in the refrigerator and consist of everything that should be included in the child’s nutrition plan. A brokerage commission should work in each institution (school, kindergarten). It includes both representatives of the administration of the institution and employees of the company that provides the food services.

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