Ban likely on junk food in schools

Food safety authority asks states to consider prohibition

By Savvy Soumya Misra
Published: Monday 15 August 2011

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.

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