An environmental and health group praised the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Quezon City Government for issuing policies that will protect school children from foods and drinks containing high amounts of saturated fat, sugar or salt.
The EcoWaste Coalition lauded Education Secretary Leonor Briones for promulgating DepEd Department Order 13, Series of 2017, which sets the “Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverage Choices in Schools and in DepEd Offices.”
The group also commended the Quezon City Government for its Anti-Junk Food and Sugary Drinks Ordinance of 2017 that bans the sale and distribution of unhealthy food and drink within a 100-meter radius of private and public preparatory, elementary and high schools in the city.
“We laud Secretary Briones for issuing detailed guidelines aimed at promoting healthy eating habits, especially among our young learners, particularly by restricting the marketing, sale and consumption of food and beverage products that are too fat, too sweet or too salty in our schools,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“If effectively enforced, this latest policy issuance from DepEd will go a long way in curbing both malnutrition and obesity among our children, which can severely affect their growth and development, while promoting the regular intake of foods and drinks that can make them go, grow and glow,” he added.
“The Quezon City ordinance, which complements DepEd’s policy, provides a model that can be studied and replicated by other local government units,” noted Dizon.
School administrators, canteen owners and vendors found in violation of the ordinance shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 for the third offense plus business permit revocation.
DepEd’s latest policy issuance “establishes the guidelines to promote healthy diets and positive eating behaviors,” as well as “provide healthy eating environments to learners, teaching, and non-teaching personnel.”
The policy specifically enumerates healthier food and beverage choices, introduces a system of categorizing locally available foods and drinks and provides guidance in evaluating and categorizing foods and drinks, as well as guidance in the marketing and sale of foods and drinks in schools and DepEd offices, including food items for school feeding programs.
The guidelines, for instance, provides a list of foods and beverages in the green, yellow and red categories. Those listed in the green category should always be available in school canteens. Those classified as yellow should be served carefully. And those categorized as red are not recommended in canteen menu.
Examples of foods and drinks in the green category: unsweetened milk, safe and clean water, fresh buko water, rice, corn, whole wheat bread, cassava, boiled sweet potato, boiled saba, boiled peanuts, suman, puto, fishes, shellfish, small shrimps, lean meats, chicken without skin, nuts, eggs and fresh fruits in season.
Examples of foods and drinks in the yellow category: 100% fresh fruit juices, fried rice, bread, biscuits, banana cue, camote cue, turon, maruya, pancakes, waffles, champorado, pancit, arroz caldo, sandwiches, processed foods (subject to evaluation of saturated or transfat and sodium content), stir-friend vegetables
Examples of foods and drinks in the red category: soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, sports waters, sports drinks, flavored mineral water, energy drinks, sweetened waters, powdered juice drinks, any products containing caffeine, any processed fruit/vegetable juice with added sugar of more than 20 grams or 4 teaspoons per serving, any jelly, ice crushes and slushies, any ice cream, ice drops and ice candies, cakes and slices, donuts, sweet biscuits and pastries, chocolates, hard/chewy candies, chewing gums, marshmallows, lollipops, yema, French fries, bicho-bicho, instant noodles, all types of heavily salted snacks such as chips or chichiria, chicharon, chicken skin, bacon, deep-friend foods including fish balls and kikiams, canned fruits in heavy syrup, sweetened fruits, deep-fried vegetables.
DepEd D.O. 13 applies to all public elementary and secondary schools, learning centers and DepEd offices in the Central, Regional and Division Levels.
Private schools are likewise enjoined to adopt the guidelines.