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FSSAI releases Regulations to Ensure Safe and Balanced diets for School Children
Junk food availability in school premises is a prominent issue for schools in India contributing to the childhood epidemic of obesity. The prevalence of obesity among 5 to 19-year-old Indian children is 3.6 and 11.7%.Junk food availability in school premises is a prominent issue for schools in India contributing to the childhood epidemic of obesity. The prevalence of obesity among 5 to 19-year-old Indian children is 3.6 and 11.7%. However, there is no strict regulation targeting junk food availability and providers in and around Indian schools. Recently, considerable attention has been focused on schools in an attempt to identify policy levers that will help reverse and control the obesity epidemic. In particular, the most debated issue is the availability of “competitive foods” like foods and beverages sold in schools.
To create an ecosystem of school health, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on September 04, 2020, issued the Food Safety and Standards (Safe food and balanced diets for children in school) Regulations, 2020. The Food business operators (FBOs) need to comply with all these regulations with effect from July 01, 2021.
Recommendations from FSSAI to the School Authorities
- School authorities selling or catering food on the campus need to registrar as the food business operators (FBOs) and ensure the safety of the available food. If school authorities are outsourcing the food service to the food business operators to provide food on the campus, they should ensure that the operators have a registration or license with the State or central licensing authority for its services. FBOs shall adhere to all the compliances of the regulations laid down by FSSAI, including sanitary and hygiene requirements.
- School authority shall display prominently, a board at school gates which says, “Do not sell including free sale or market or advertise the food products high in saturated fat or trans-fat or added sugar or sodium within school premises or campus” written in English or Hindi language and ensure the same is implemented as well.
- School Authority shall ensure that there shall be no advertisement of food which is high in saturated fat or trans-fat or added sugar or sodium on school computers.
- The school authority should promote the adoption of a comprehensive program for the consumption of balanced and healthy food items and meet specified benchmarks to convert school campus into ‘Eat Right Campus’ that focus on serving of safe food and balanced diet, local and seasonal food and no food waste.
- School authorities shall encourage and promote consumption of a safe and balanced diet in premises based on guidance from ‘Dietary guidelines for Indians – A Manual’, issued by the National Institute of Nutrition and other expert institutions or authorities.
- The School Authority may appoint a Health and Wellness Ambassador of Health and Wellness team, that shall act as the nodal persons to monitor availability of safe, balanced and hygienic food.
- The schools may engage with nutritionists and dieticians to ensure healthy and balanced diet for its students.
- The Department of School Education shall ensure that all FBOs contracted by it for operation of the id-day meal scheme are registered or licensed under the provisions of the Act, rules or regulations made thereunder and ensure that the food is safe and balanced.
- School authorities shall have a system to conduct periodic inspections of school premises and State food authorities will undertake surveillance activities of food business operators that sell their products in schools to ensure the compliance of the regulations.
- Recommendations from FSSAI to the FBOs, Local and State Authorities.
- Local authorities, municipal corporations and State Food Authorities shall ensure that No person shall advertise or market or sell or offer for sale including free sale, or permit sale of, food products high in saturated fat or trans-fat or added sugar or sodium in school campus or to school children in an area within fifty meters from the school gate in any direction.
- The State Level Advisory committee (SLAC) constituted under sub-regulation 2.1.15 of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011 shall create a subcommittee that shall meet at least twice a year and recommend indicative list of foods to be sold or served in schools as per the broad guidelines of the Food Safety and Standards (Safe food and balanced diets for children in school) Regulations, 2020.
- FBOs shall support balanced eating in schools and not market, sell, or give away food which is high in saturated fat or trans-fat or added sugar or sodium anywhere on school campuses
Guide for selection of food to provide safe and Balanced diet in School Premises
Safe drinking water, variety of foods, combinations of grains, vegetables, fruits, and animal origin foods, and ghee and oils in moderation should be employed. Inclusion of fortified food products to make the meals more nutritious
Mandatory meal times in school should be observed.
|Inclusion in Menu||List of Foods and Beverages (illustrative only)|
|1.||Always a part of the menu – 75- 80% of the foods should belong from this category||a) Cereals, Millets and Pulses – Such as whole wheat grain (atta), rice, Millets (ragi, bajra, etc.), Legumes (all dal and|
b) Milk, Milk products, egg, meat and fish –milk, curd, yoghurt, lassi, butter milk, paneer, or milk products, lean
meat, chicken, fish, egg
c) Fruits and Vegetables –vegetables (including green leafy vegetables: other vegetables and roots and tubers) Fresh fruits (Local and seasonal produce)
d) Oils, fats, nuts and oilseeds – walnuts, almonds, pistachios, roasted nuts without salt or sugar, groundnuts, sesame seeds, etc.
e) Processed/cooked Foods–Freshly made soup, porridge, beverages with no added sugar, stir fried vegetables, snacks – boiled, baked or steamed, cereal or pulses based
such as idli, upma, poha, khandvi, dhokla, cheela, namkin daliya, etc.
|2.||To be eaten occasionally – in small portion size and reduced frequency (e.g., once in a week)||a) Desserts – Ice-creams, milk-based and dairy based sweet/desserts|
b) Packed foods- cheese, canned and preserved vegetable, packaged meat or fish products, fruits/vegetables/cereal/pulses-based snacks, nuts and seeds.
c) Bakery Products – white breads, biscuits.
d) Beverages – Packaged soups and juices cereal or malt-based beverages, flavoured soya milk, etc.
|3.||Not to be made available in the school, hostel, etc.||Food products high in saturated fat or trans-fat or added sugar or sodium.|
- Gazette Notification no. F. No. 15(1) 2016/School Children Regulation/Enf/FSSAI dated 04.09.2020 on the Food Safety and Standards(Safe food and balanced diets for children in school) Regulations, 2020.Available at: https://www.fssai.gov.in/upload/notifications/2020/09/5f55ecdfd1cbaGazette_Notification_Safe_Food_Children_07_09_2020.pdf .Accessed on 29 th October, 2020.