During the recent hearing of our petition regarding junk food ban in Schools, the Union Government informed the Delhi High Court that the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has started the work for framing guidelines to make available quality and safe foods at schools across the country.
There are more than 8 lacs primary and upper primary schools spread all over the country, imparting education to more than 12 crore children, the FSSAI said in its response to HC.
The FSSAI would review the present status of safety and food quality and hygiene conditions in school premises. It would also study food habits of school children, food handling and hygiene practices in school kitchens, safety standards of ingredients in foods prepared at school canteens, mess or under mid-day meal scheme and availability of infrastructure.
In the continues effort to encourage healthier eating habits in children, in 2010, Uday Foundation, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court regarding ban of junk food and carbonated drinks in and around schools across the country.
Extracts from Delhi High Court Order Dated 29.08.2012
1. Learned ASG points out that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), an autonomous statutory Authority has been constituted under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. The said Authority had invited proposals from experienced agency / organization / institutions for
“Development of guidelines for making available quality and safe food in Schools”. It is pointed out that there are more than eight lakhs primary and upper primary schools spread all over the country imparting education to more than twelve crores children. The problem of serving junk food in the schools and the adverse impact thereof has been recognized and for the said reason, it was proposed to award the work to the agency to address the following components:
- Review of present status of safety and quality of food, sanitary and hygiene conditions in the food made available to children in School premises.
- To study food habits of school children.
- Food handling and hygienic practices in school kitchens both public and private.
- Safety standards of ingredients in food prepared in school canteens, mess or under mid-day-meal scheme.
- Availability of infrastructure facility like kitchen, mess, canteen, cooking and serving vessels, water used etc. in schools and status of their sanitary and hygiene conditions.
- Collection of data on food safety and nutrition level of food served in schools.
- Incidents of food borne illness in schools and their causes.
- Suggest measures for improvement in the quality and safety of food served in schools. Adherence to the nutritional and safety norms laid down in this regard.
- Develop guidelines for improvement in safety and quality of food served in Schools.
- Pilot testing of guidelines in few selected schools comprising of rural, urban, tribal area schools, boarding schools with centralized kitchen as well as decentralized kitchen to assess whether the same are implementable.
- Organize 4 regional workshops for consultation with 40-50 stakeholders per workshop to get inputs / feedback on the draft guidelines.
2. Learned ASG further submits that after inviting tenders and evaluating the same, the work has been awarded to the Nielsen Company,New Delhifor development of the guidelines for making available quality and safe food in schools. The terms of reference on which the said Agency is to work are also placed before us.
3. The concerned Agency is directed to intimate the date of commencement of the work. The steps are expected to be completed within a period of 26 weeks from the date of acceptance of the offer.
4. In view of our earlier directions, we expect that the concerned Agency shall elucidate the views of the Restaurant Association, Retailers Association, All India Food Processers Association etc. who have moved the applications for impleadment in this petition.
5. To await the report of the aforesaid Agency which is awarded the work, we adjourn the matter to 20th March, 2013.
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