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The FSSAI has urged regular inspection of school premises to ensure that safe, healthy and hygienic food is served to students (Mint file)
The FSSAI has urged regular inspection of school premises to ensure that safe, healthy and hygienic food is served to students (Mint file)

FSSAI seeks to clamp down on junk food served in schools

  • The FSSAI has proposed to restrict sale of foods high in fat, sugar and salt among school children
  • It will also monitor how such foods are sold and marketed to school kids

New Delhi: To get school children to eat better, India’s food safety regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has notified a draft regulation that aims to monitor the quality of food being served to children in schools. The FSSAI has proposed to restrict sale of foods high in fat, sugar and salt among school children and also monitor how such foods are sold and marketed to school kids.

In the draft regulation titled Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and healthy diets for School Children) Regulations, 2019, the regulator has listed several points to monitor the quality of food sold, and supplied to school children. As part of its move, the FSSAI--that falls under the ministry of health and family welfare--has invited suggestions and objections from stakeholders. "These regulations, after consideration of stakeholder comments and finalization, would be finalised for implementation," the FSSAI said in its press note detailing the draft notification. The aim is to ensure safe and wholesome food for school children.

Among other things, the FSSAI aims to restrict HFFS or highly fatty and salty foods “sold to school children in school canteens, mess premises, hostel kitchens or within 50 meters of the school campus." It has also sought to bar food business operators or FBOs manufacturing HFSS food products from selling or advertising their products to school children. “Food business operators manufacturing HFSS food products shall not advertise or offer for free sale of such foods to children in school premises or within 50 meters of the School campus."

Further, it has laid down strict guidelines on how FBOs can market their products to children: “when marketing foods to children, FBOs shall depict and package or serve food in reasonable portion sizes and not encourage overeating directly or indirectly." It has directed food operators to "develop new products that help children eat healthy, especially with regard to nutrient density, energy density, and portion size. FBOs shall support healthy eating in schools and not market, sell, or give away low-nutrition foods or brands anywhere on school campuses."

It has also made it harder for such food operators to market and distribute samples of such foods through logos, brand names, spokes-characters, product names, or other product marketing on vending machines; books, curricula, and other educational materials; school supplies; posters; etc.

The FSSAI has urged regular inspection of school premises to ensure that safe, healthy and hygienic food is served to students. It has also sought that "FBOs supplying prepared meals in the premises are on the basis of general guidance provided in the regulation and as per the direction issued by the Food Authority or the Commissioners of Food safety."

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