Govt response sought on PIL for ban on junk food in schools

Updated: Mar 21, 2013, 10:27 AM IST

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the city government if it had issued any direction to schools on regulating sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around their premises even as the Centre said it would come up with guidelines on the issue by July.

Issuing notice to Delhi government on a PIL seeking ban on sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around schools, a division bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain sought its response by April 17.

"We want to know whether the Delhi government has issued directions to the schools here regarding sale of junk food and carbonated drinks under the Delhi Education Act," the bench said.

Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General(ASG) Rajeeve Mehra told the bench that the central government would finalise the guidelines by July this year to regulate the availability of junk foods and carbonated drinks within 500 yards of a school.

Earlier, the government had informed the court that the task of framing guidelines on making available quality and safe food in the schools has been assigned to AC Nielsen QRG-MARG Pvt Ltd.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said that in pursuance of the court`s earlier order; it has given the task to formulate the guidelines to the private firm after inviting proposals from various expert agencies that do similar work.

The report had stressed the need for guidelines saying besides the students studying in public schools, there are more than twelve crore children studying in government-run primary and upper primary schools in the country.

"There are several reported incidents of food poisoning in the schools due to unhygienic food served there," it said adding that hence, it necessitated the framing of guidelines.
In January last year, the court had given six months` time to FSSAI for framing guidelines on banning sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around educational institutions in the country.

The court had also asked the FSSAI to consult the All India Food Processors Association (AIFPA) and restaurant associations for framing the guidelines.

AIFPA, in its application, had said that it deals with processing of fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, milk and milk products and also the manufacturers of biscuits and confectionery products and may give some precious pieces of advice to the FSSAI.

The court was hearing the PIL filed by Rakesh Prabhakar, a lawyer for NGO `Uday Foundation` seeking a direction banning sale of junk food and aerated drinks in and around schools.