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Ban likely on junk food in schools

1 Comments
Aug 15, 2011 | From the print edition

Food safety authority asks states to consider prohibition

CARBONATED drinks and junk food may soon be off the shelves of school and college canteens. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said this in a counter-affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court on July 18.

Global bans
 
  • US passes bill in December 2010 banning junk food in schools
• In May 2010, Mexico withdraws it in all public and private schools
• UAE instructs all Abu Dhabi schools to stop its distribution in 2010
• Canada’s Ontario government bans candy, chocolate, fries, pop and energy drinks on school premises in September 2010
 
 
 

The counter-affidavit was in reply to a public interest petition seeking ban on junk food by Uday Foundation, a non-profit working for children’s health in Delhi.

FSSAI said the health ministry has written to chief ministers and health ministers of states to “consider issuing instructions for withdrawal of carbonated beverages and junk food from school and college canteens”. Medical colleges and agricultural institutes may also be asked to ban them.

There have been no rules on junk food till now because the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, does not define it. Foods that are high on fat, sodium and sugar. and low on vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fibre are generally called junk food. FSSAI’s counter-affidavit cites scientific studies that show a correlation between junk food and chronic degenerative diseases besides hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and glucose intolerance.

“This is a positive step,” says Rahul Verma, co-founder of Uday Foundation. “We will now request the court to form a committee comprising nutritionists, civil society members and schools to draw a comprehensive policy on nutrition and guidelines for schools and educational institutions,” he says.

AddThis

Though this is a welcome thing, it is quite tricky to define what is junk food in the Indian situation. Do we include Samosas, Paav Vada or other favourite Indian snacks also under the junk food label? Anyhow one should definitely ban the use of the packed fries which use high quantities of salt and other preservatives and which actually tastes quite bad, but the children cling to them because of the image created by heavy advertisements. May be we have to revive many of the traditional snacks that we used to have but bulldozed by the wave of the "branded" snacks. We should also admit that not all our traditional snacks are healthy too! Nutritionists should speak out !!

4 August 2011
Posted by
Raghu Menon

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