FSSAI proposes ban on junk food advertisements in and around schools

INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has proposed a ban on junk food advertisements in and around school premises to protect school children from junk foods and unhealthy eating.

This is in response to the 2015 directive from the Delhi High Court requiring the food regulator to enact regulations aimed at promoting safe and wholesome food among the school children.

The draft regulations which awaits the health ministry approval seeks to ensure availability of safe, wholesome and nutritious food in schools.

“We have proposed to put a curb on advertisements and promotion of food that is not healthy in school premises and 50 metres surroundings,” said FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal.

“About three years ago, the High Court had asked us to come out with regulation on healthy diets for school children.

“We have been struggling to put that regulation together. Because if you have to make a law, it has to be implemented.”

The draft regulation has put in place definitive parameters and matrix to classify healthy and unhealthy food.

It proposes restrictions on the sale of food including noodles, chips, carbonated drinks and confectionery in and around schools.

This is part of the draft Food Safety and Standards (Safe and Wholesome Food for School Children) Regulations which aim to restrict consumption of unhealthy food among children in schools, where parental supervision is minimal.

Consumption of foods high in sugar, salt and fat is high among children and the youth, and they are linked to food related diseases such as diabetes, proving to be a public health burden.

Bowing to the pressure from public health advocates, several packaged food companies already voluntary do not advertise their food products to children below the age of 12 years and in primary schools.

FSSAI has also pledged to do away with trans fats, to align with WHO goals by 2023 with an objective of restricting/limiting the consumption and availability of junk food.

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