Only 61.1 percent of schoolchildren with food allergies are served school lunches free of allergens, with 28.1 percent forced to remove the substances themselves, an education ministry survey said Monday.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has urged schools to remove allergens from lunches before serving them to sensitive children.
Last December in Tokyo a fifth-grader allergic to dairy products died after she ate a school lunch that included cheese.
Of the 579 public elementary and junior high schools surveyed nationwide, 519 reported having a collective 4,244 students with food allergies in May. Nearly 11 percent of them brought home-made lunches to school.
In the 2012 school year, 40 children mistakenly ate allergens, with eight developing hives or a stomachache.
Another survey found there were 453,962 public school students with food allergies from elementary through high school, or 4.5 percent of all students, in August. The figure was up from 329,423, or 2.6 percent, in June 2004.