Your child’s school canteen is likely to stop the sale of pizzas, chips, burgers, noodles, french fries, sandwiches and aerated soft drinks if the health ministry has its way.
In its ‘draft guidelines for making available quality and safe food in schools’ filed in the Delhi High Court, the ministry said it wanted the sale of these food items to be “regulated”. It said these were “junk food which contained no proteins or vitamins but were rich in salt, sugar and high in calories which can cause obesity and hypertension”.
As an experiment, the ministry wants the gradual ban to be first enforced in Delhi schools and then extended nationwide. “Schools should regulate the sale of unhealthy foods and discourage binging among students,” the ministry said.
The court-ordered guidelines, compiled after a survey of 600 schools across the country, came in response to a PIL seeking a ban on the sale of junk food in schools.
Petitioners Rahul Verma and lawyer Amit Saxena of NGO Uday Foundation said, “It is time we change the way kids eat in schools. Such a ban will set new standards for healthy food.”
A bench headed by acting chief justice BD Ahmed is expected to finalise the guidelines after discussions with all stakeholders on September 4.
The ministry said nutrition labelling should be made mandatory for packaged foods sold within school premises while it should be displayed in form of charts for unpackaged foods.
Safe mid-day meals
Expressing concern over recent incidents of mid-day meal poisoning in several states, the ministry also suggested food safety norms to be followed by schools to ensure hygienic healthy and balanced food.