FSSAI stands for Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and it is an autonomous body solely responsible to come up with guidelines for safeguarding the public health by ensuring food safety. FSSAI is established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, sections 31(1) and 31(2). It is a department under the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Govt. of India which aims to protect the health and wellbeing of the citizens. It is very important to regulate the health of the future of our nation i.e. the school going children and so FSSAI has come up with the guideline that governs on ensuring safe and wholesome food in schools.
Food Safety for School Children Health
FSSAI has several times issued guidelines to prohibit the street hawkers and vendors dealing with fast food to open their shops nearby school. It is really unhealthy for the students to eat junk food because usually at that age they need healthy and nutritious diet which fosters a healthy physical body and a proper mental growth.
Also due to the recent outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic this topic requires greater attention. Therefore, FSSAI has come up with regulations to ensure safe and wholesome food for the school children.
The Regulation of FSSAI and Aim for Safe & Wholesome Food in School
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have released their final Gazette Notification formulating healthy diets for children’s of school. The Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and Balanced Diets for Children in School) Regulations, 2020, the regulations shall come into force from July 1, 2021.
Evaluation on Food Content
Delhi High Court directed and asked the apex food supervisory body to evaluate on this subject and then later on an Expert Group and HFSS Expert Committee was comprised to furnish with recommendations concerning the food products which are high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium.
Responsibility to School Authorities
With the regulations related to Safe Food and Healthy Diets for School Children, the FSSAI has granted responsibility to the school authorities to ensure the safety of the food and balanced diet in the school premises which was not in the regulation earlier as it was only on the canteen caterer or contractor who had to decide about the food in the canteen which mostly used to be unhealthy without considering the diet and nutrition.
FSSAI has directed that there shall be no advertisement and sale of the junk food in the canteen of the school and 50 metres within and around the school campus has been prohibited in order to promote safe and wholesome food for children.
Responsibility of Everyone Associated with School
The regulations now lays greater importance and responsibility on everyone who is associated with the school to make sure regarding the safety and food quality available for the children for the reasons of obesity and health issues among them.
School Canteen Caterer Registration
Currently it is obligatory for the School Canteen Caterer or the Contractor to either have the registration from the food authority or have the requisite license.
No Pamphlets or Wallpapers
Furthermore, the authorities of the school shall have to ensure that there is no advertisement of any food or any pamphlets or any hall or food wallpaper which illustrates food that are high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium for sale inside the school canteen.
FSSAI Aim- Promotion of Safe & Balanced Diet
The FSSAI has with its regulation emphasized the encouragement and promotion of safe and wholesome food and balanced diet both outside and inside the school campuses.
FSSAI Food Schedule
The FSSAI regulation has also laid down the Schedule attached that has the detailed guidelines on:-
- Foods that are safe and has a balanced diet for children and
- Selection about the food that will be used in and around the school shall be decided by the school authority considering safe and wholesome food.
The school authority should hang a board with a warning not to sell or advertise the food products high in saturated fat or trans-fat or added sugar or sodium in English or local language at the entrance gate of the school.
FSSAI has directed that schools should implement a complete curriculum for promoting ‘safe food and balanced diets’ for school children and has asked the school to convert their school campuses into ‘Eat Right Campus’ prioritizing on provision of safe and healthy food.
Appointment of Nutritionists and Dietitians
To promote consumption of safe and wholesome food in the school according to the guidelines provided by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), now the school authority is duty bound to appoint nutritionists and dietitians to help out in preparing the school canteen’s menu for the children from time to time.
There must be a regular inspection of the school premises to have a check on the food safety and quality, hygienic conditions in which they are stored and served. Also, a ‘Health and Wellness Team’ or a ‘Health and Wellness Ambassador’ be appointed who would act as a nodal person to supervise the availability of safe and wholesome food
Authorities to Check
The state food authority and the local public authorities are responsible to ensure the proper conformity of these regulations.
Appointed to Committees
A sub-committee shall be created by the State Level Advisory Committee as per the regulation. Their main purpose would be to regularly monitor and check the implementation of these regulations also to make sure that the food available to school children is safe and wholesome food.
General Guidance for Selection of Food by the Schools
The regulation has divided the food category into three parts:
- Food always a part of the menu – 75-80% of the food should be under this category and always be the part of menu. This consists of cereals, wheat, dry fruits, milk products, processed cooked food etc.
- Food to be eaten occasionally – Food that can be considered for eating occasionally in small portion size and reduced frequency (like once in a week) shall consists of desserts, packed foods, beverages and bakery products.
- Foods not to be made available- Food that shall not be made available in the school which are high in saturated fat or trans fats or added sugar or sodium.
It is very essential that proper eating habits should be given to the children from the very early age. The significance of a healthy food and balanced diet leads to improvement of cognitive ability in children and helps them learn better and grow healthy.
Therefore, the guidelines of FSSAI promoting and safeguarding public health and life has to stay vigilant and updated with the regulations as is required according to the urgency of time. Hence, this regulation was much needed to protect school children’s health and life and to ensure that only safe and wholesome food is available in and around school.
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