Junk food off school menu
Junk food off school menu
8/23/2010 12:00 AM
Olivia Olarte

Abu Dhabi, August 22, 2010: Chips, crisps, ice cream, chocolates, nuts, candies, frizzy drinks and hotdogs are now off the school menu, according to the latest version of the school canteen guidelines.

The revised regulation, which was jointly reviewed by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), will come into force as soon as classes start in September.

�All schools are bound to comply with these guidelines with immediate effect,� said Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, director of public relations and communications at the ADFCA, which enforces the regulation. This is part of the continuous efforts to improve children�s health by adopting healthy eating habits at school, in addition to physical activities.

The Ministry of Health�s (MoH) latest figures showed that 20 per cent of schoolchildren between eight and 12 years are overweight due to poor food choices offered in school canteens. The MoH studies showed that 60 per cent of students aged five to 14 years consumed chips and chocolates daily compared to 28 and 23.2 per cent daily consumption of vegetables and fruits.

With the new rules, junk foods, soft drinks, foods high in fat and sugar and processed meats such as sausages, hotdogs, shawarma, nuggets and burgers will not be allowed to be served at school cafeterias.

While some foods will be allowed provided they meet the required conditions. These include low fat milk; butter-free popcorn; cereals that are free of dyes and fortified with iron; stuffed pies and manakish not exceeding 52 grams; while rice, noodles and pasta should not exceed 220ml and no sodium glutamate in noodles.

Noting the importance of the guidelines, Al Reyaysa said this will �guarantee provision of healthy and good food to the pupils by demanding adherence to the standards and specifications with regards to hygiene, the types of food that are allowed to be served to the pupils and other food-related conditions that all school canteens must meet without fail�.

Thus, full compliance will be required not only from the school canteen, but also from the suppliers and workers at both places.

According to the ADFCA procedure, suppliers go through stringent process before they are granted licence to supply food to school canteens. The supplying companies are also subjected to strict monitoring and surveillance to ensure that �under no circumstances unhealthy foods reach school canteens�.

�We will see to it that the guidelines are strictly implemented and no neglect or violation of them is tolerated under any circumstances,� Al Reyaysa told Khaleej Times, adding that periodic inspections are conducted to ensure adherence to regulations.

�Violators will be issued fines after sufficient warnings... (and) all cases of violations are referred to the courts,� he added.

Box 1

Food allowed in school cafeteria

�         Bread (whole grain, flour, white or brown)

�         Potatoes, boiled or grilled

�         Corn

�         Beans

�         Dates, muffins or biscuits stuffed with dates

�         Fruits and vegetables

�         Soya milk, dairy, yoghurt and cheese

�         Scrambled eggs

�         Jam

�         Bottled drinking water


Food prohibited in school cafeteria

�         Nuts

�         Fried potatoes (French fries)

�         Ice cream and chocolate

�         Gelatine, lollipop, sweet chewing gum, candies

�         Wafers

�         Processed meat including sausages, hotdogs, shawarma, nuggets and burgers

�         Fruity drinks

�         Soft drinks, energy drinks, flavoured water, sports drinks, slush


Foods allowed if certain conditions are met

�         Cereals (canned or packed) � free of dyes and fortified with iron

�         Garlic bread � Garlic should be of thin layer with a little olive oil

�         Stuffed pies and manakish � should not exceed 52 grams

�         Rice, noodles, pasta � should not exceed meal cup size of 220ml and noodles should not contain sodium glutamate

�         Salads � dressing with lemon, vinegar and olive oil only

�         Milk � should be low fat

�         Kebab, kofta and meatballs, poultry, fish � should be grilled or broiled

�         Popcorn � should be free of butter

�         Juices � should meet the required minimum level of concentration and fruit pulp


Khaleej Times, August 23, 2010


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