Bangkok considers Japanese central kitchen system for school lunches

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Is there a solution to improve the quality of Thai schools’ cafeteria food?

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is exploring the possibility of implementing a central kitchen system, similar to the one used in Japan, to enhance the quality of school lunches in Thailand. The central kitchen concept was introduced by Nobuko Tanaka, a former Japanese school lunch specialist, during a recent seminar in Bangkok, Bangkok Post reported.

The central kitchen system involves consolidating the processing and cooking of school meals at a single location, which increases efficiency and economies of scale. The prepared food, whether fresh, cooled, or frozen, is then transported to individual school kitchens for portioning, heating, and serving. According to Tanaka, each central kitchen caters to multiple schools within the same vicinity.

Dr Wantanee Wattana, Deputy City Clerk, revealed that the BMA is considering adopting the Japanese model for supplying lunches to schools. The BMA is currently surveying areas in Bangkok that are suitable for initiating a pilot phase of the project, reports Bangkok Post.

At present, the BMA operates Thai School Lunch for BMA, a school lunch meal system that provides schools with guidelines on the standard quality of meals. These guidelines outline the appropriate amount of energy and nutrition that students should receive.

Additionally, the Institute of Nutrition at Mahidol University has developed a school lunch programme featuring a rotating list of dishes aimed at improving nutrition. Dr Wantanee highlighted that many schools face challenges in hiring cooks or catering providers, as well as managing cooking and food costs. The centralised system could help address these issues.

In the past, Thailand has had issues with food served in schools.

In 2019, 70 secondary students from the Jian Hua School in Nakhon Pathom’s Bang Len district suffered food poisoning after eating their school’s lunch. Twenty-five of the affected students were sent to Supan Buri’s 17th Somdet Phra Sangkharat Hospital suffering from severe diarrhoea, vomiting and seizures.

Will the Japanese kitchen system of processing and cooking of school meals at a single location ensure better food quality?

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.