Check tiffin box for junk food, CBSE tells schools
Open the tiffin box of students to check consumption of unhealthy food, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) directed its affiliate schools on Thursday.
It also asked every school to constitute a canteen management committee and include parents and students as its members to ensure that only healthy food items are cooked and sold to children on the campus.
“They (committee members) may decide the type of food to be prepared in the school kitchen/canteen and, as and when possible, check the quality of raw materials and ingredients to ensure that food available in schools meets safety, hygiene and sanitation standards,” it added. The board issued a detailed set of guidelines to replace junk foods with healthy snacks and food varieties, as its previous advisories in this regard had been cold shouldered by a large number of private schools.
It also asked the schools to make parents and children aware of the ill effects of junk food.
“Schools are required to ensure that there are no high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) foods like chips, fried foods, carbonated beverages, ready-to-eat noodles, pizzas, burgers, potato fries and confectionery items, chocolates, candies, samosas and bread pakoras in the school canteens,” the CBSE said in a circular.
It also advised the schools to conduct “inspection” of lunch boxes of their students to rule out consumption of unhealthy foods, saying consumption of HFSS food has been found to be associated with many diseases, including type-2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, chronic inflammation and hyperinsulinemia with a risk of cardiovascular diseases in later life.
“These diseases and childhood obesity have been reportedly found to affect the cognitive and physical development of children adversely, causing an irreparable loss to the society,” it added, highlighting significance of promoting healthy food eating habits among children.
In its circular, the board gave the web link of a recent report of a working group, set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, and asked the schools to refer the recommendations for implementation.
“The recommendations made by the panel comprehensively covers the issue and provides invaluable insights on how to control the endemic problem of consumption of junk food available in and around schools,” it added
The board’s directive comes months after the Delhi High Court, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) in March last year, accepted the draft guidelines formulated by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, to restrict sale of HFSS food items in and around schools.