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Posted at: Sep 13, 2018, 2:26 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2018, 2:26 AM (IST)

Despite orders, sale of junk food continues in colleges

In 2016, UGC had issued advisory, backing ban on it
Despite orders, sale of  junk food continues in colleges

Naina Mishra

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12

Despite the University Grants Commission (UGC) directives to ban junk food on university or college campuses, canteens of almost every educational institute are serving noodles, burgers, patties, samosas, bread pakoras and carbonated beverages to students.

Students savouring fried food and quenching thirsts from carbonated drinks are a common sight in city colleges.

During a random visit to a number of colleges, it was found that the sale of junk food is going on unabated.

On November 10, 2016, the UGC had issued an advisory stating that “banning junk food in colleges would set new standards for healthy food and make the students live better, and learn better and also reduce the obesity levels in young learners, thus preventing lifestyle diseases which have a direct link with excessive weight”.

On August 21 this year, the UGC had reiterated the same and urged educational institutes to ensure strict adherence to the advisory issued in 2016. The UGC had also asked them to create awareness among the younger generation.

On being asked whether the college authorities had warned them against the sale of junk food, employees working in canteens of a couple of colleges drew a blank.

“We have not received any instructions from the authorities that we can’t sell junk food,” said an employee working at a canteen of Sri Guru Gobind Singh College (SGGSC), Sector 26.

“A committee has been formed to look after the issues of the college canteen. I will check the status of junk food’s sale. The committee will be directed in this regard,” said Inderpal Sidhu from SGGC-26.

“As fast food is readily available, we refrain from eating healthy food. I enjoy noodles than a roti. And, if our college canteen has such food, why will we not to relish it? The UGC guidelines are unwelcoming,” said Neha, a student of DAV College, Sector 10.

“In the past, there were guidelines about junk food. However, a college committee will see what steps are required to be taken in this regard. Our college canteen sells less quantity of junk food,” said Kiran Sood, Dean, Student Welfare, DAV College.

Though the UGC has not classified food items as junk food, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) had constituted a working group which has submitted its report on ‘Addressing Consumption of Foods High in Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS) and Promotion of Healthy Snacks in Schools of India’.

Director Higher Education Rubinderjit Singh Brar said, “Let me go through the UCG advisory and then I can comment.”

Ministry of Women and Child Development report

  • According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development report, there is no official definition of junk food till now in India. The term “junk food” has not been defined under the Food Safety and Standards Act. The term “HFSS food” is used in place of junk food which is understood as food that is high in fat, sodium and sugar and lacking in micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fibre and such food is responsible for obesity, dental cavities, diabetes and heart disease. 
  • HFSS food includes ready to eat noodles, pizzas, burgers, tikka, gol gappas, chips, fried foods like potato fries and carbonated beverages. 

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