India To Ban Junk Food In Schools
India is contemplating banning junk food sale in its schools, after it was found that the school canteens were serving unhealthy and unhygienic food to students. With this announcement the country joins the league of health-conscious nations like the US and the UK, in taking serious steps towards a healthier food regime for its future generations. Considering that the junk food has negative impact on the brain of an individual, it is no surprise that more and more governments in the world are waking up to the fact that junk food should be banned if children’s health is to be saved.
The India Story
Reports have come in that food poisoning is growing among school children, all due to the unhygienic (read junk) food served to them at schools. With a growing trend among children to eat canteen food during school hours, this problem is set to grow further, says The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI). India has more than 8 lakh schools, in which more than 12 crore children are being taught. Throwing light on this subject, FSSAI says, “Several incidents of food poisoning due to unhygienic food served in the schools were reported. On the other hand there is an increase in the quantity and variety of junk food which are sold within the school premises. This may have deleterious effect on children’s health both in short and long term.” Experiences in other parts of the world have taught that junk food is not good for your health and it also impacts your behaviour.
After being directed by the High Court in this regard, the Authority has decided to frame the guidelines for safe food in canteen with help from the A C Nielsen Company. The HC directions came in concern of a PIL filed against a ban on the sale of junk food and carbonated drinks near schools. The PIL was filed by the Uday Foundation and it sought a blanket ban on junk food sale in schools. The petitioners said in the PIL, “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.” It really is a weird situation as far as junk food in schools is concerned. FSSAI has six months to frame the guidelines.
The Dismal Picture
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already listed India, along with Brazil, Russia, and China, as countries which lose close to 20 million productive life-years because of chronic diseases. About 12% of India’s children are obese. Just as it happens everywhere else, in India too schools tie up with fast food chains to allow them to sell their products (read junk food) on the premises. According to a survey, one-third of Indian children consume junk food about thrice a week. School canteens are flooded with food items like chips, colas, burgers, hot dogs, pizzas, etc. In fact, a Health Ministry representative told the court, “There are several reported incidents of food poisoning in schools due to unhygienic food served in canteens. There is an increase in the quantity and variety of junk foods sold within the school premises that may have harmful effect on children’s health both in short and long term.”
With six months at its disposal, FSSAI is going to bring in strict guidelines against junk food and that may just improve the situation in Indian schools because it is already proved that junk food laws do have an impact.
Image Courtesy: udayfoundationindia, newzstreet