The Government of La Rioja is investigating the appearance of worm larvae in pasta dishes in poor condition on school menus in at least five public centers in the community. The incident came to light this Friday, when the company providing the service, Serunión, assured that “there was no danger” because the “contaminated” food was removed in time and replaced with another food, something that was initially supported by the Executive of the autonomous community through a statement. However, given the indignant testimonies of some parents from the Eladio del Campo school, in the town of Murillo del Río Leza (1,600 inhabitants), who claim that their children did ingest the larvae in the dishes that were served this Friday, the Department of Education has reported that it has contacted the regional management of the company and has requested an “urgent report for Monday specifying what happened, as well as the protocol followed, the measures taken in each affected center and if there are cases. in which the control and quality assurance systems have failed.” And also if “some student” ate the spoiled pasta. The department has indicated that it will adopt “the necessary measures” and that it is studying whether the protocol for the “withdrawal of food” was not activated in any center.
“My son ate more than half a plate of macaroni,” Antonio Parra told Cadena SER of La Rioja. “The director called me at half past five in the afternoon, when the children were already home after eating, to make sure that they had found worms in the leftover pasta,” he added. Another mother, Clara Barrasa, who is part of the Parents Association of this center, has told Europa Press that her children also ate the pasta. This association has reported that the larvae were found on the school menu, where children in the second cycle of Preschool and Primary attend, and also in the center of the first cycle of Preschool education, with students up to three years old. In a statement issued this Saturday, the association emphasizes that the children “did eat the macaroni in bad condition” and that the dining room service did not offer them an alternative dish, which is why it requests that what happened be thoroughly investigated. He has specified, however, that none of the schoolchildren are in poor health.
The Federation of Associations of Mothers and Fathers of Students in public schools (FAPA Rioja) confirms, after collecting different testimonies, that the insects “did reach the plate in some schools”, as confirmed by its general secretary, Esteban García. The federation is collecting information and does not rule out that there are more than five centers affected. What is certain is that none of the schools are in Logroño, given that this Friday the centers in this town were closed, due to the San Mateo festival.
The Serunión company, which has an agreement to supply food in public schools in the community, has always denied that the students ate the spoiled pasta. The company, with a history of complaints about the low quality of the school menu, attributes this “accident” to high temperatures and limits it to five public centers. “The protocol was activated before the schoolchildren ate the food,” he emphasizes. The Rioja Government, which has also collected data from the Murillo de Río Leza school itself, will contrast what happened.
In Calahorra (25,000 inhabitants), at the Ángel Oliva school, it was possible to remove the spoiled food in time, since the center’s cook noticed the presence of worms before serving the pasta. “We do not understand how as soon as a chef realized that the dish was not in good condition, the company did not give the order to remove this food,” regardless, adds the head of FAPA Rioja, of whether there is a professional in the center. in the kitchen or the service is catering. According to the FAPA story, in the centers where there is a cook, they withdrew the product as soon as they realized that there were larvae, the problem is in the schools in which the food was supplied directly by the Serunión catering. The company, however, insists that the protocols were activated in time.
This is not the first time that the school cafeteria service run by this company has received criticism from families. “There is evidence: children are not eating well,” said FAPA Rioja itself in the first quarter of last year. In 2014 there were also complaints in Navarrete, a town of 3,000 inhabitants, about the presence of weevils in dishes. In addition, incidents of varying magnitude have been recorded in the catering offered by this company in other services, such as home help. In 2017, a piece of glass appeared in one of the food trays intended for the elderly. In the contract for the school cafeteria service, the price of the menu is set at 4.59 euros (VAT included) per diner per day. The contract was awarded in March 2022 for a period of one year and is extendable for another three years.
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