“What are the possible drawbacks of pre-prepared meals?”: Trending hashtag on Chinese social media

In the past few years, many regions in China have adopted centralized kitchens for school meals. Catering companies are tasked to distribute meals to local schools. Concerns have arisen about the health implications of such pre-prepared meal, as parents are worried this could potentially be detrimental to students’ health in the long run. There has been an increase in controversies surrounding this issue recently due to some recent scandals. For example, in Jiangxi Province, parents of many students in local primary and high schools uploaded videos online voicing their concerns. Their children experienced stomach discomfort after consuming pre-prepared meals at school.

Heated Weibo discussions on pre-prepared meals

These controversies recently have stirred heated discussions on this topic on Weibo. In the 3rd week of September, the hashtag #What are the possible drawbacks of pre-prepared meals# (预制菜可能存在哪些问题). The hashtag was viewed over 17 million times within shortly three days. Under the hashtag, some netizens have given their own takes on this. The majority of which were critical or unfavorable towards pre-prepared meals.

Source: Weibo, netizens comments on serving pre-prepared meals in schools

Majority reject pre-prepared school meals

According to an ongoing poll initiated by China Daily (中国日报) in terms of whether pre-prepared meals should be allowed in school as of September 20th, 78% of the respondents are against this idea, primarily due to concerns about its nutritional value compared to freshly prepared dishes. Only 8% of the respondents support it for food safety is supposedly more assured this way. The remaining 14% either hold a neutral stance on the matter or believe it should be left to the discretion of parents.

Pre-prepared school meals under scrutiny

  • The introduction of centralized kitchens for school meals in China has sparked concerns about health risks, especially after reports of students experiencing stomach discomfort.
  • These concerns have led to heated debates on Weibo. The topic garnered over 17 million views in just three days, mostly featuring critical viewpoints.
  • A recent China Daily poll shows that 78% of respondents oppose pre-prepared school meals due to concerns about nutrition. On the other hand, 8% support them for perceived food safety benefits. The remaining 14% have neutral or parental discretion-oriented views.