International school principal ousted after parents find expired food in cafeteria

Society & Culture

The Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration and Education Bureau jointly announced today that the head of SMIC Private School, an international K-12 school located in the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park of Pudong, Shanghai, was dismissed after parents discovered moldy vegetables and out-of-date seasonings in a kitchen that prepares food for students.

The health concerns at SMIC Private School came to light following parents’ dissatisfaction with the portion and quality of food served by the school’s cafeteria. During a lunchtime visit on October 17, a group of parents found that meals that day only consisted of two frozen steamed buns, a medium-sized duck leg, some vegetables, and a tiny box of milk. The poor quality of catering sparked worry and anger among the adults, who reportedly pay an above-average price of 24 yuan ($3.50) per day for their children’s lunch.

SMIC Private School

On October 19, under pressure from the parents, the school decided to hold a meeting to address the issue. When confronting school officials, some parents demanded a tour of the food prep kitchen — and that’s where they discovered moldy tomatoes, rotten onions, spoiled spices, and meat products with fake labels indicating a future date of manufacturing. Appalled, parents immediately asked to meet the supplier, who, at the scene, denied any wrongdoing and wanted to destroy evidence by dumping food items found in the kitchen. Angry parents immediately took photos and called the police that evening.


Sixth Tone reports that the school’s cafeteria was run by Shanghai Eurest Food Technologies Service Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of U.K. company Compass Group PLCl, which was also responsible for catering services at a few other international schools in Shanghai.

Founded by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation in 2011, SMIC Private School is one of the elite educational institutions in the city. Parents of SMIC students usually pay more than 50,000 yuan ($7,200) per semester for tuition fees and other costs.

On October 20, the school issued an announcement on its website, saying that it had terminated its relationship with the supplier and promised to strengthen its “oversight of the food supplier and enhance the implementation of a more stringent food quality control process.”

Following an investigation carried out by the Pudong Market Regulation Bureau, the supplier apologized on Monday and vowed to conduct a thorough internal inspection. It was ordered to suspend its services until the completion of the probe.

According to (in Chinese) the joint announcement released today, the school’s principal has been removed from his position over the scandal. In addition, the school’s board is required to deliver a public apology to the parents.