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Govt mulls Blanket Ban on Junk Food in Schools

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TNI Bureau: In order to provide food with proper nutritional value to the students, the government of India has decided to ban the junk food in school canteens by March next year. As per the order, the school canteens will start taking junk food off their shelves.

Replying to the Delhi High Court on Wednesday, the ministry of health and family said that the government will take care of the quality of food served in schools and frame proper guidelines for its improvement by March next year.

Earlier, a Public Interest Litigation was filed by Rahul Verma and Rakesh Prabhakar of Uday Foundation in Delhi High Court seeking a complete ban on junk food, the carbonated beverages and other harmful food items within 1,500-foot radius of the schools.

The Petitioners had prayed in the PIL that, “It is high time we change the way kids eat in schools. Such a ban will set new standards for healthy food. On one hand, children are taught in classroom about nutrition…, on the other, we continue to make junk food available to them.”

Accordingly, earlier in January this year HC had asked the Food Safety and Standards of India (FSSAI), to study the quality of food served in schools and to frame proper guidelines for its improvement.

In this connection The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India informed yesterday to a bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw that it has hired A C Nielsen Company to develop guidelines for ensuring healthy food in school canteens.

The scope of work assigned to the agency includes reviewing of present status of safety and quality of food, studying food habits of school children, collecting data on nutritional levels of students and suggesting measures for improvement – FSSAI also informed.

The court has asked FSSAI to come back with final guidelines on March 22 next year.

After initiation of the said PIL in the Court in 2010, many schools started to ban colas and crisps in their canteens in a bid to provide proper nutrition to their students. Of course, many still haven’t adopted the new policy.

Junk food comprises of those foods, which are of little nutritional value and often high in fat, sugar, and calories. Common junk foods include salted snack foods, gum, candy, sweet desserts, fried fast food, and carbonated beverages.

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