“There are many universities at Seodaemun-gu and most of the consumers of the restaurants around campuses are students,” said Kim Ki-uk, an official from the Seodaemun-gu Health Center. “By letting students become the agents of sanitary inspection, it would be possible to alert the business owners’ of their food hygiene.”
Thus, the district recruited students who are attending universities situated in Seodaemun-gu. Among the selected 17 members, there are five students from Ewha Womans University.
Until the end of last year, the food sheriffs learned basic information related to food hygiene such as the law concerning food hygiene. They also participated in field experiences. For instance, in February, the food sheriffs participated in the genetic testing of Korean beef at restaurants specializing in selling Korean beef.
“Before the holidays when consumption of Korean beef increases, we usually conduct genetic testing of it,” Kim said.
Based on the knowledge acquired through these activities, the sheriffs, divided into groups of two, have started hygiene instruction service at the Sinchon area. The main subjects of the service are restaurants where many students visit but lack proper hygiene management.
“For instance, many students frequently use fast-food restaurants with delivery service or snack bars,” Kim said. “There are many students who are skeptical about how well hygiene is managed in these restaurants. The activities of the sheriffs would strengthen the food sanitation management.”
The student sheriffs check the overall sanitary conditions and the labeling of the ingredients’ country of origin. Not to disturb with the sales, the inspection has been conducted before or after lunchtime. Also, they instruct legal matters related to food hygiene such as indicating prices of the products or discarding leftovers.
In addition to the instruction, they are promoting the “Restaurant Internet self-regulation system.” Through the system, the business owner can send the results to assigned the Seodaemun-gu office through the internet after self-inspection of the sanitary condition. The participants can be exempted from the officials’ direct visits for inspection.
On May 16, the sheriffs held a campaign to improve food culture such as reducing the use of sodium in food and finishing the dish without any leftovers. Following the event, the food sheriffs are plan to widen its range of inspection to places such as institutions with contract food service.
“From June, the University Students Food Sheriffs are also going to inspect restaurants near elementary schools,” said Moon Suk-jin, the head of Seodaemun-gu Office. “We are expecting improved customer satisfaction through their activities.”