Junk food off the school canteen menus in Abu Dhabi
Pupils in Abu Dhabi are tucking in to healthier lunches after the education authority selected 27 new food suppliers for canteens in public schools.
The Abu Dhabi Education Council’s (ADEC) school canteen committee yesterday issued new guidelines approved by authorities, including the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) and Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD), that aim to eradicate junk food.
Under the new rules, foods that are high in fat and sugar and processed meat, such as sausages, hotdogs, shawarmas, nuggets and burgers, cannot be served to students.
Suppliers have been approved by the ADFCA while the school canteen committee will monitor the quality of food being served, as well as nutritional value and prices.
Hilal Al Marzouqi, the committee’s chairman, said that each school will evaluate the new service and submit a detailed report at the end of each term. This will detail the quality of services and the commitment of suppliers to the new terms and conditions.
Dr Arwa Al Medwahi, senior public health officer for family and school health at HAAD, said each student requires five portions of fruits and vegetables each day.
“It is difficult to get these if they are not available in schools,” she said. “Meals available in the school canteens need to be balanced in order to ensure the required nutrients are provided.
“Studies show that stopping the sale of unhealthy food in schools plays a significant role in reducing diseases in society.”
Ismail Abdul Rahman, a Sudanese parent in Abu Dhabi, welcomed the new rules. He said: “It’s a good initiative as it will help reduce the increasing problem of obesity among children.”
He added that although some parents provide healthy food for their children at home, some schools are less careful about the kind of food they serve to children.
And Emirati father Hassan Hamid added: “I always ensure that my children have a balanced diet, especially when they are at home. I don’t encourage my boys to eat junk foods.
“But sometimes they eat such food at school.”