Hyderabad: The Food and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed a complete ban on sale as well as advertisements for junk foods in school canteens and within 50 metres of school campuses to encourage children consume only healthy and wholesome food.
The proposed ban on sale as well as advertisements for junk foods are contained in FSSAI’s draft regulation titled ‘Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and Healthy Diets for Schoolchildren) Regulations, 2019’ and comments have been sought from the stakeholders within 30 days on the draft rules.
“Foods which are referred to as foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) cannot be sold to schoolchildren in school canteens or mess premises or hostel kitchens or within 50 metres of the school campus,” the FSSAI said.
The Food Business Operators (FBOs) manufacturing HFSS food products would be barred from advertising such foods in school premises or within 50 metres of the school campus, it added.
Several schools blatantly sell junk food items in their canteens by putting children’s health at risk and in most cases stores and kiosks offering them could be found close to the educational institutions. “This move by FSSAI is quite beneficial for children. Though people might not find it agreeable at first they will eventually relish the tremendous health benefits,” says Rachna Bhattacharjee, Principal, Unicent School, Nagole. Initially, students in her school used to get cakes and other junk food items for their lunch. “We started sending circulars and addressing children in the assembly and now we find most of the students actually refrain from getting junk food,” she adds.
Eat Right School
A school campus should be converted into ‘Eat Right School’ focusing on safe and healthy food, local and seasonal food and no food waste as per the specified benchmarks. The FSSAI draft regulation says, “Encourage school authorities to promote the consumption of a safe and balanced diet in the school as per the guidelines issued by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)”.
The school authorities would have to ensure that FBOs supplying prepared meals on the premises were based on general guidance provided in the regulation and as per the direction issued by the Food Authority or the Commissioners of Food safety. Nutritionists, dietitians must be engaged by the school administration to assist in the preparation of the menu for the children, periodically.
“FBOs to support healthy eating in schools and not market, sell, or give away low nutrition foods anywhere on the school campus, including through logos, brand names, posters, textbook covers, etc,” the draft said while prescribing regular inspection of premises to ensure safe, healthy and hygienic food was served to students.
Junk food is used to describe food and drinks low in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibre and high in kilojoules, saturated fat, added sugar and/or added salt. Regular consumption of junk food increases the risk of obesity and chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and some cancers.
What FSSAI regulation says
Healthy food makes our kids feel better, grow better and learn better and right eating habits can be ingrained in the children from a young age. At the heart of these regulations is a fundamental idea to make it clear what is healthy for children and what is not — FSSAI in draft regulation
Items prohibited by CBSE
Food items that canteens should not sell as per CBSE guidelines: Chips, fried foods, carbonated beverages, ready-to-eat noodles, pizzas, burgers, potato fries and confectionery items, chocolates, candies, samosas, bread pakora, etc.