The right eating habits must be engrained in the children right since early childhood. The importance of a healthy and balanced diet leads to the development of children’s cognitive ability and helps them learn better and grow healthy. To ensure safe and wholesome food for school children, FSSAI has finalized a necessary regulation on Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and balanced diets for Children in School) Regulations, 2020. At the heart of these regulations is a fundamental idea to clarify what is healthy for children and what is not.
Ten-point charter of regulation
– The school authority itself or food business operators (FBOs) contracted by the school authority that is selling or catering school meals, and FBOs contracted by the Department of School Education for the operation of the Mid-Day Meal scheme must obtain a registration or license as applicable and comply with the requirements of sanitary and hygienic practices to the food service establishments as specified under schedule 4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) regulations, 2011.
– FSSAI said foods referred to as food products high in saturated fat or trans-fat or added sugar or sodium (HFSS) could not be sold to school children in school canteens or mess or premises or hostel kitchens or an area within fifty meters from the school gate in any direction.
– Schools to be encouraged to adopt a comprehensive program for promoting safe food and balanced diets amongst school children, and to convert school campus into Eat Right Campus focusing on the provision of safe and healthy food, local and seasonal food, and developing practices amongst kids no food waste as per the specified benchmarks.
– Encourage school authority to promote the consumption of a safe and balanced diet in the school as per the guidelines issued by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN). Nutritionists and dietitians may be engaged by the School authority to assist in preparing the menu for the children periodically.
– School authority shall ensure that a board containing warning “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” in English or one Indian language as applicable, is displayed prominently at the entrance gate or gates of the school.
– The School Authority shall ensure that FBOs supplying prepared meals in the premises are based on general guidance provided in the regulation and as per the direction issued by the food authority or food safety commissioners.
– FBOs manufacturing HFSS food products barred from advertising and marketing of such foods to children in school premises, including through logos, brand names, posters, textbook covers, and others or in an area within fifty meters from the school gate in any direction
– Regular inspection of premises to ensure that safe, balanced and hygienic food is served to students and a Health and Wellness Ambassador Health and Wellness team may be appointed as the nodal persons to monitor the availability of safe, balanced, and hygienic food.
– Public authorities, like municipal corporation or any other local body or Panchayat in an area, as may be notified, in addition to State Food Authority, shall also ensure the compliance of these regulations.
– Creating a sub-committee by the State Level Advisory Committee to monitor the implementation of these regulations and ensure safe and wholesome food to school children.
FSSAI stated that these regulations, after consideration of stakeholder comments and finalization, are now notified. Sufficient transition time will be given to all stakeholders before enforcing these regulations. Meanwhile, FSSAI would direct State Food Authorities or Department of School Education to frame safe and balanced diets for children in school following these regulations’ general guidance.