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‘No to junk food!’

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BACOLOD City – Schools must be off-limits to junk food, a Department of Education (DepEd) official said.

School canteens must instead offer food in accordance with DepEd Order No. 8, Series of 2007 (revised implementing guidelines on the operation and management of school canteens in public elementary and secondary schools), said Lila Vaflor-Arro, administrative officer of DepEd-Bacolod City.

Junk food is a derisive term for food that is of little nutritional value and often high in fat, sugar, salt and calories.

The DepEd Order prefers the following nutrient-rich food in school canteens:

* root crops

* noodles

* rice and corn products in native preparation

* fruits and vegetables in season, and

* fortified food products labeled rich in protein, energy, vitamins and minerals.

For beverages, DepEd eschews carbonated drinks and instead recommends that school canteens offer milk, shakes or juices prepared from fruits and vegetables in season.

Food that may be detrimental to children’s health and do not bear the “Sangkap Pinoy” seal and or did not pass the Bureau of Food and Drugs are prohibited, stressed Vaflor-Arro.

She also said the DepEd Order mandates the controlled use of iodized salt to ensure that the iodine requirement for children is met.

Vaflor-Arro said DepEd-Bacolod City is forming a monitoring team composed of Home Economics teachers to check canteens in public elementary and secondary schools.

Aside from school canteens that continue to offer unhealthy foods, DepEd also warned parents against buying street food that may affect the health of their children.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) has recommended public school canteens to go through a “canteen makeover” to ensure that only nutritious food are offered to the students.

DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said schools should also impart to students the value of eating nutrition-rich foods particularly fruits and vegetables./PN