The Basic Education Department (DBE) has suspended with immediate effect the serving of canned pilchards as part of the national school nutrition menu across all schools in the country.
The decision follows a recent order by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications that all formal wholesalers, retailers and informal traders remove and stop selling the 400g Pilchards in Tomato Sauce and 400g Pilchards in Chili Sauce with immediate effect.
“This follows the outcome of the NRCS investigation which revealed a deficiency in the canning process.
“Following this announcement, the DBE has instructed all provinces to communicate with their respective suppliers to stop supplying these products as part the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) menu with immediate effect,” said the DBE in a statement on Wednesday.
The canned fish is a common item consumed in all schools which offer the NSNP to more than 9.2 million learners every school day.
In addition, the department advised provinces to check all pilchards stock against the official list of products and product codes ZST29 and ZSC29 in the attached official communication from the NRCS, and follow the guidance provided therein.
The department further advised provinces to replace pilchards with other sources of protein from their approved menus in the meantime.
“To date the department has not yet received any negative reports from provinces, we are at this stage trying to proactively stay ahead of any potential challenges and protect the profile, credibility and integrity of the NSNP.”
The department reassured parents, learners and members of the public that it is doing everything in its power to ensure that no learner is compromised.