A high-level government panel formed to frame guidelines on junk food has recommended banning 12 categories of food items including chips, soft drink, instant noodles, pizzas, burgers, cakes, biscuits and sweetmeat in school canteens across India.
Instead, it has proposed an all Indian, mostly vegetarian menu comprising pulao, rice, dal, halwa, kadhi chawal, rajma, khichdi, payasam, idli, vada, sambhar, coconut, shikanji, jaljeera to be served in school canteen.
Set up by the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry in May, the 10-member committee headed by T Longvah, directorin-charge, National Institute of Nutrition has also recommended that street vendors should not be allowed within 200 metre during school hours.
Earlier, a committee set up by the Centre had in March 2014 recommended restricting the availability of junk food items inside schools and up to 50 metre of their boundaries.
The WCD ministry panel has also defined junk food as “any food or drink, packaged or non packaged, which contain low amounts of proteins, vitamins, phyto-chemichals, minerals and dietary fibres but are rich in saturated fatty acids, salt and sugar and high in calories that are known to have negative impact on health if consumed regularly or in high amounts.
Presently, India does not have any regulation banning such food in school canteens.
The panel has also recommended that school canteens should colour code food items as green, yellow and orange depending on its nutritional values.
“Being the nodal ministry looking after interest of children we had set up this panel. We will give the report to the Human Resource Development ministry which will take a call on its implementation,” said a WCD ministry official.
On July 31, the HC gave the government three months time to enforce guidelines on restricting sale of junk food in and around schools.
Accepting the draft guidelines for restriction on sale of junk food in and around schools, the court in its order had directed the FSSAI to create regulations and implement them within three months.