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Need to specify junk food items regulated in schools: HC

Posted on Apr 23 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, April 23 : The Delhi High Court Wednesday stressed the need to specify the junk food items that should be regulated in schools.

Hearing a plea seeking a ban on junk food in and around schools, the court asked advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, the amicus curiae in the case, to segregate the portion enforceable in the draft guidelines submitted by an expert panel.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog asked the amicus curie to submit a report within three weeks and posted the matter for further hearing Aug 6.

The court's order came on a plea filed by social activist Rahul Verma of the NGO Uday Foundation, who demanded a ban on the sale of junk food in schools.

It further wanted the high court to initiate measures to discourage availability of fast food within 500 yards of schools in Delhi, besides formulating a canteen policy.

The draft guidelines recommended "restricting/limiting availability of junk food" in schools and nearby areas, instead of complete ban that was submitted by the working group.

The experts who drafted the guidelines are split on the issue.

Environmentalist Sunita Narain, who was part of the expert panel to render opinion on dietary habit and consumption of junk food amongst school children, alleged that the original recommendations were diluted to accommodate and protect the food industry.

The draft guideline for regulating food high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS), also popularly known as junk food, submitted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), was not equipped to safeguard the health of school children, alleged Narain.

The panel members suggested ban on junk food within a radius of 500 yards around schools. However, in the draft guidelines, the distance was reduced to 50 metres.

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