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Recently, there has been a lot of news about pre-made dishes, including whether restaurants should be informed in advance when using pre-made dishes, whether pre-made dishes are safe and healthy, and whether pre-made dishes are suitable for entering campus. In this regard, the Jiangsu Provincial Consumer Protection Commission believes that if restaurants use pre-made dishes, they should fulfill their obligations to make clear and remind, and diners can choose to consume or not. For prepared dishes, some experts said that there is no need to worry about safety issues for prepared vegetable products of large enterprises, but there is a certain degree of nutrient loss.

"Offline restaurants also use pre-made dishes", "Pre-made dishes have additives", "Pre-made dishes enter the campus"... Recently, there has been a lot of news about pre-made dishes. Many consumers have reported that offline restaurants and restaurants use pre-made dishes without prior notice. In response to the problem of "pre-made dishes entering the school", some parents of students expressed concerns about the safety of pre-made dishes.

So, should restaurants be informed in advance about the use of prepared dishes? Are prepared dishes safe and healthy? Is it appropriate to bring pre-made dishes to campus? Recently, a reporter from the "Workers' Daily" conducted an investigation and interview.

Restaurants using prepared dishes should be informed in advance

Sauerkraut fish, plum chop buckle, Mao Xuewang, potato brisket, Buddha jumping off the wall... Dishes that used to be very cumbersome to prepare were served in less than 10 minutes after ordering at restaurants. While lamenting the efficiency of the restaurant, many customers also suspected that they might be eating pre-made dishes.

Recently, the Jiangsu Provincial Consumer Rights Protection Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Jiangsu Provincial Consumer Protection Commission) conducted a micro-survey to understand consumers' attitudes towards the use of prepared dishes in offline restaurants and restaurants. The survey results show that 62.8% of consumers have encountered restaurants and restaurants using prepared dishes in the process of eating out; 53.2% of consumers oppose the use of prepared dishes in restaurants and restaurants, saying that they want to eat fresh dishes when they go to restaurants.

The survey results also show that 65.6% of consumers believe that restaurants and restaurants should inform in advance when using prepared dishes; 78.1% of consumers reported that offline restaurants and restaurants did not notify in advance of the use of prepared dishes.

In this regard, the relevant person in charge of the Jiangsu Provincial Consumer Protection Commission said that according to the provisions of the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests, consumers have the right to know the true situation of the goods they purchase or use or the services they receive, and also have the right to choose goods or services independently. If a restaurant uses pre-made dishes, it should fulfill its obligation to make it clear and remindful, and diners can choose to consume or not to consume, otherwise it is suspected of infringing on consumers' right to know and choice. It is worth mentioning that restaurants using pre-made dishes to fake freshly cooked dishes are more suspected of false publicity and consumer fraud.

In this regard, the Consumer Protection Commission of Jiangsu Province calls on catering enterprises and businesses to improve their self-discipline and consciousness, take the initiative to clearly publicize the source of the dishes used, whether they are pre-made dishes, production processes and other elements, and fully respect consumers' right to know.

Safety is only the bottom line, and safety is also about health

In recent years, the domestic prepared vegetable industry has accelerated its development. Tianyan inspection data shows that there are about 6,3 prefabricated vegetable related enterprises in China.

So, are prepared dishes safe? Chinese food industry analyst Zhu Danpeng pointed out that some large prepared vegetable enterprises have central kitchens, central factories and centralized procurement and distribution centers, and their hardware equipment and production processes are guaranteed, and there is no need to worry too much about safety.

However, he also pointed out that because there is no "national standard" and no industry entry threshold for prefabricated dishes, some small enterprises cannot follow the standard system and quality internal control system, resulting in mixed industries and potential food safety hazards.

In February last year, the Jiangsu Provincial Consumer Protection Commission released the "Survey Report on the Consumption of Prepared Dishes", which showed that the problems of prepared dishes mainly focused on the quality and price of dishes, and consumers complained that the dishes were not fresh, had too much oil, lacked pounds and were expensive. According to the report, consumers are most concerned about food safety for prepared dishes, accounting for nearly 2%. According to the survey results, many consumers said that they encountered quality problems when purchasing prepared dishes, mainly reflected in the deterioration and corruption of dishes, the freshness of ingredients, foreign substances in prepared dishes, and the existence of expired phenomena.

In this regard, Liu Junhai, a professor at the Law School of Chinese Minmin University, said that prefabricated vegetable enterprises should do a good job in food safety, formulate a set of special food safety standards, and improve consumer satisfaction; It is also necessary to ensure the transportation conditions of goods and improve the efficiency of distribution.

Safety is only the bottom line, and safety is also about health. Some experts pointed out that there may be high salt and high fat in pre-made dishes, and compared with freshly cooked dishes, pre-made dishes have a certain degree of nutrient loss, which is mainly due to the loss in the production and processing process, and consumers purchase pre-made dishes after secondary heating.

In this regard, the Consumer Protection Commission of Jiangsu Province recommends that prefabricated vegetable enterprises should carry out technological upgrades to ensure the reduction and freshness of prefabricated dishes, and continuously improve the taste of prefabricated dishes.

Zhu Danpeng believes that the "national standard" related to prefabricated dishes should be introduced as soon as possible, and the entry threshold should be set so that the prefabricated vegetable industry can be standardized and healthy, and then talk about the guarantee of nutrition and flavor.

Prepared dishes should be cautious when entering the campus

Since the beginning of the school, "pre-made dishes into the school" has attracted the attention of the public, especially parents. Some parents are worried that pre-made dishes contain additives, are not fresh, not nutritious, etc., which will affect their children's health, and some parents have to choose to send lunch to their children.

Zhu Zheng, director of Beijing Jingshi (Hefei) Law Firm, believes that prefabricated dishes should be cautious when entering campuses.

According to Article 57 of the Food Safety Law, the canteens of schools, childcare institutions, pension institutions, construction sites and other centralized dining units shall strictly abide by laws, regulations and food safety standards; Those ordering food from catering units shall order from enterprises that have obtained food production and operation licenses, and inspect the ordered food in accordance with requirements. Catering units shall strictly abide by laws, regulations and food safety standards, and process meals on the spot to ensure food safety.

Zhu Zheng said: "Meal processing, ensuring food safety" are two important indicators. Prepared dishes have not undergone a very scientific evaluation and verification procedure to prove their safety, cannot meet the statutory requirements of "ensuring food safety", and their production process is not very consistent with the "meal processing" in the above legal provisions.

In August 2021, the General Office of the Ministry of Education, the General Office of the State Administration for Market Regulation and the General Office of the National Health Commission issued the Notice on Strengthening the Management of Hygiene, Safety and Nutrition in School Canteens, which states that the interval between cooking and eating of student meals should not exceed two hours. The characteristics of the prepared dish itself are contrary to this regulation.

In Shen Binxi's view, according to the Regulations on School Food Safety and Nutrition and Health Management, primary and secondary schools and kindergartens should cultivate students' healthy eating habits. If children often eat prepared dishes at school, it will change the taste and eating habits of minors in the long run, which is not conducive to children establishing good living habits and behavioral habits.

On September 9, the person in charge of the relevant department of the Ministry of Education also said that in view of the fact that there is no unified standard system, certification system, traceability system and other effective supervision mechanisms for prefabricated dishes, they should be very cautious about "prefabricated dishes entering campus" and should not be promoted to campus.

Huang Hongtao Yang Zhaokui (Source: Workers' Daily)

Huang Hongtao Yang Zhaokui