The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) restricted the sales of food high in fat, salt and sugar in school canteen and areas that come within the range of 50 meters of a schools' premises on October 16. Schools in Gurgaon welcomed the move, but within few days, most of schools feel a ban is not the solution for the junk food problem. They say the ban might tempt children more towards junk food options. Besides, some felt such an order would make crafting a menu suitable for international students more difficult.
Schools also feel there is confusion over what constitutes 'junk food'. For instance, most 'Indian' items on the menu have a very high fat content, automatically qualifying them as junk. "The problems with the definition of junk food is - if we ban chips but allow aloo bhaji, a very common tiffin item - the purpose is defeated," said Rupa Chakravarty, principal, Suncity School.
AdvertisementRupa Chakravarty, principal, Suncity School says "The problems with the definition of junk food is - if we ban chips but allow aloo bhaji, a very common tiffin item - the purpose is defeated,". The number of immigrant students are increasing day by day, food choices of these students are different from that of the average north Indian child "For Korean kids, noodles is a staple. We have many Korean, Japanese and Chinese students in our school. Restricting noodles or pasta as junk is completely unfeasible," said Sudha Goyal, principal, Scottish High School.
The main aim of FSSAI's guidelines on banning junk foods in and around school campus was to promote healthy eating among students. Students feel that they need the freedom to pick their food. Students and parents should be educated about benefits of healthy eating so that they can make an informed choice of what to have and what not to have. Most of the big city schools have kitchens and canteens of their own and mostly avoid serving aerated drinks, sometimes chips and burgers are available.
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