Lunch breaks in school meant gorging on patties, chips, noodles, samosa and cold-drinks; but not anymore. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has taken the bold step of banning sale of junk foods to students. All foods that are high in saturated fats or trans-fats or with added sugar or sodium will be off the menu in school canteens and other educational institutions. Not just this, even sale and advisement of junk food within 50 metres of schools will be prohibited.
What does this mean? Students can't have unhealthy foods within the schools premises and also cannot rush out to nearby eateries after school to buy them. This may prove to be an effective step in coercing children into eating healthy foods, which may be welcomed by concerned parents who are unable to keep an eye on their kids' diet when they are out of home.
"The idea is to provide safe food and balanced diet for children in schools. Foods which are referred to as foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) cannot be sold to schoolchildren in school canteens or mess premises or hostel kitchens or within 50 metres of the school campus," a senior FSSAI official told ANI.
(Also Read: 7 Easy & Healthy Lunch Box Recipes For Children)
The FSSAI order covers all pre-primary, primary, elementary, secondary, day-care, creche, boardings run by private entities, local bodies, government bodies or entities aided by the government. Extending the purview of the regulation, inspection by municipal authorities and state administration will be carried out regularly to make sure the new guidelines will be followed through.
"Canteen, mess, kitchen operating in school should have a licence from a FSSAI. Also, food business operators contracted by the department of education to function the Mid-Day Meal scheme must obtain a registration or licence from the apex food regulating agency and comply with the requirements of hygienic practices as specified under schedule 4 of the Food Safety and Standards Act," the official added.
This move must have brought relief to all the parents of school-goers but what is left to be seen how students take to it.