School lunch provider that served raw chicken tenders 'stood down'

Thu, Mar 9

The school lunch provider that served raw chicken tenders to Kaitaia College students has been "stood down" pending an Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation.

It comes as yesterday students at Northland's Kaitaia College were fed raw chicken tenders provided by Bells Produce Ltd, leading to some throwing up in class and one seeking advice at hospital.

Today the Ministry of Education gave 1News a statement on what actions are being taken.

"MPI is investigating, and Bells Produce is working with them. We have stood down Bells Produce from providing school lunches until the MPI investigation is complete," Sean Teddy, Hautū (Leader) Operations and Integration said.

"We have another supplier taking over the delivery of lunches from today while the investigation is underway.

"We have not been notified of any other incidents at this time."

Bells Produce Ltd usually supplies lunches to three schools, all of which have been suspended.

New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle also gave 1News a statement today.

"The Far North District Council is managing this issue.

In general, New Zealand Food Safety’s Food Compliance team manages problems identified in food businesses using a graduated and proportionate approach. This means we assess the problem, determine the associated risk and use the appropriate tool in response.

"This ranges from education and advice, through to directed enforcement action, which could include directing a business to stop selling the non-complying product. Prosecution is also option."

Students 'throwing up'

Kaitaia College deputy head girl Bianca Walburn explained the chaos that unfolded at lunch to 1News.

Raw chicken tenders served at Kaitaia College.

"The providers of the food bring in these massive tubs to all of our classrooms at our whānau group time – and that is where all of our lunches were," she said.

"All of a sudden I hear 'eww gross what’s going on'.

"There it was just disgustingly, disgusting chicken so I took some photos, it’s just horrific, it was completely raw."

Walburn said multiple teachers went into classrooms telling people to stop eating the chicken and the principal came over the intercom to also issue a warning.

School lunch provider Bells Produce Ltd issued an apology on its Facebook page.

"We have become aware that in today's lunches to the Kaitaia College, which was had cooled crumbed chicken as in ingredient, that a batch of the lunches had uncooked meat.

"Firstly we would like apologise to the school and children who this may have affected.

"All of the lunches were recalled as a safety measure once we we notified.

"We understand this is a concerning issue and we will be investigating what may have caused this issue as well as working with the school and everyone required in this matter to work through it.

"Once again we are deeply sorry to everybody involved and that those effected lunches not to a safe and acceptable standard that should be expected."

Kaitaia College also apologised for the incident.