Ban junk food in canteens, FDA tells colleges, schools in Maharashtra
Over one lakh educational institutions in Maharashtra will be asked to ban foods with high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) content in their canteens and replace it with high carbohydrate protein items, according to a new scheme introduced by the state’s Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
The aim of the programme, promoted under the ‘Eating Right’ scheme, is to change eating habits and reduce chances of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, among adolescents and youngsters. It will be affiliated to the Food Safety Standards Association Authority of India (FSSAI).
HFSS food items – known to lead to various health problems among adolescents – include high-calorie foods such as burgers, pizza, chips and cold drinks that can lead to increase of blood sugar, diabetes, hypertension obesity and diabetes.
“As per the dietary pyramid of Nutritional Institute of Nutrition, youth are supposed to have adequate consumption of fruits, vegetables, milk and cereals; moderate amount of consumption of fats, meat, fish and eggs; and low consumption of junk food. However, we have noticed that convenience food is promoted in menus due to its cost effectiveness and aggressive branding. Through the campaign, we will change the eating pattern of students,” said Dr Pallavi Darade, commissioner, FDA.
Officials said that a notification, along with guidelines for implementation of the programme, has been sent to all educational institutes. Institutes have been instructed to form health committees, comprising the head, faculty members, nutritionists, parents and student representatives.
“The institutes will have time till September to implement the programme. During October and November, assistant commissioners from the FDA will begin a survey of schools. Apart from this, they will also organise workshops for students, parents and teachers. By the end of the year, compliant institutions will be rewarded and the non-compliant ones will be served show cause notices,” said Darade.
However, past efforts to change eating habits in school and college canteens have remained unsuccessful. In May 2017, a government resolution banned junk food from school canteens. However, the plan remained on paper as authorities failed to put a monitoring system in place.
Sudam Kumbhar, principal, Shailendra Educational Society, Dahisar, said, “Failure of communication between different government resolutions and head of institutions is a major cause of the failure of such schemes. The institutions should immediately implement such directives but most of the times, they are unaware about the programmes or don’t take it seriously,” said Kumbhar.