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FSSAI issues final gazette notification on healthy diets for school kids
Monday, 28 September, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued the final Gazette Notification prescribing healthy diets for school children. Called Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and Balanced Diets for Children in School) Regulations, 2020, the regulations will come into force from July 1, 2021.
These regulations were result of the direction of the Delhi High Court wherein it has asked the apex food regulator to review the subject and an Expert Group and later on a HFSS Expert Committee was constituted to give recommendations regarding the food products which are high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium.
Meanwhile, in regulations related to Safe Food and Healthy Diets for School Children, FSSAI has fixed the responsibility of the school authorities to ensure safe food and balanced diets on school premises which earlier was missing in the schools and left only to the canteen contractor or caterer or the in charge of the canteen.
The regulations now lay greater emphasis and responsibility on all those connected with school running to ensure safe food to the children for the reasons of obesity and health issues among them. Now the School Canteen Contractor /FBO / Caterer needs to have either licence or registration from the food authority, according to D V Malhan, president, the Society of Bakers.
Further, the school authority shall have to ensure that there shall not be any advertisement/or banner or wallpaper of food which depicts high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium for sale. “The emphasis is on the promotion of safe food and balanced diet in and around school campuses,” he added.
The regulation also has a Schedule attached that lays down detailed guidelines regarding: (A) which are safe food and balanced diet for children and (B) also about the selection of foods by the schools for safe food & balanced diet.
General guidance for selection of foods by the schools
Sr.No. Inclusion in Menu List of Foods and Beverages
1 Always a part of the menu – 75-80% of the foods should belong from this category Cereals, millets and pulses – Such as whole wheat grain (atta), rice, millets (ragi, bajra, etc.), legumes (all dal and beans)
Milk, milk products, egg, meat and fish –milk, curd, yoghurt, lassi, butter milk, paneer, or milk products, lean meat, chicken, fish, egg
Fruits and vegetables –vegetables (including green leafy vegetables: other vegetables and roots and tubers) Fresh fruits (Local and seasonal produce)
Oils, fats, nuts and oilseeds – walnuts, almonds, pistachios, roasted nuts without salt or sugar, groundnuts, sesame seeds
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) Desserts – ice creams, milk-based and dairy-based sweet/desserts
Packed foods- cheese, canned and preserved vegetable, packaged meat or fish products, fruits/vegetables/cereal/pulses based snacks, nuts and seeds
Bakery products - white breads, biscuits
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 fats or added sugar or sodium

Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has objected to the rules that food products high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium in school campus or to school children in an area within 50 m from the school gate in any direction will not be allowed to be sold.
The CAIT while opposing the regulations has stated that the move will impact the businesses of traders across the country.
According to clause 5 of this regulation, 'School authority shall ensure that no person shall sell or offer for sale including free sale, or permit sale, of food products high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium in school premises or campus'. However, FSSAI in the regulations itself clarified that the rules related to food high on salt, sugar and fat will come into effect at an appropriate time. According to experts, the matter is related to regulations for labelling, which are under discussion in FSSAI at the moment.

Malhan added that these regulations implied that schools and shops can sell wide range of food items mentioned at Sr.No.1 & 2 mentioned in the scheduled table whereas there will be restriction on the sale of only those food products having high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium mentioned at Sr.No. 3 above.

"For the food products which are high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium, other regulations are coming which will indicate its nature," said Malhan.

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