The Delhi high court on Wednesday asked the Centre to ensure that junk food did not make up a major portion of a school student’s diet as it may lead to health risks.
The court, however, also said a student cannot be asked to give up junk food completely.
“No food is without some nutritional value. If a child has junk food once in a while, it is fine but only when it becomes a dietary habit does the problem begin,” a bench of Chief Justice Venkat Ramana and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog said.
The National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) has urged directions to a seven-member committee appointed by the Centre to hold consultation with panel of experts and scientists working in the field of nutrition and also with all stake holders like food processors and associations. The committee will finalise guidelines on regulating the sale of junk food in and around school premises.
The health ministry had on September 4 told the court it has formed the committee to finalise the guidelines. The panel will comprise four members of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and one official each from the HRD ministry, health ministry and the National Institute of Nutrition.
Global marketing research firm AC Nielsen — which was tasked with drafting the guidelines — had suggested banning of sandwiches, pizzas, chips, burgers, noodles, french fries and aerated soft drinks in schools across the country.
The court is hearing a PIL filed by social activist Rahul Verma of the NGO Uday Foundation demanding a ban of the sale of junk food in schools.