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QC to ban junk food, sweets in schools

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The Quezon City Health Department on Monday released a list of allowed and prohibited foods to be sold in public and private schools in line with City Ordinance 2579-2017, or the “QC Anti-Junk Food and Sugary Drinks Ordinance of 2017”.

The ordinance prescribes that canteens in public and private elementary and high schools, as well as preparatory schools, and stores within 100 meters from school premises only sell nutritious food that are included on the list.

Dr. Verdades Linga, city health department chief, said that studies say that junk food and sugary drinks cause non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

“Dumarami na ang datos na nagsasabing ang diabetes at hypertension ay nagsisimula na sa murang edad. Kung hindi natin ito gagawan ng aksyon, magkakaroon tayo ng siyudad na ang mga bata natin o mamamayan ay maagang magkakasakit at hindi maging productive (More data are saying that the diabetes and hypertension are already starting in an early age. If we would not take action on these, we shall have a city where our children or citizens will be ill early on and would not be productive),” Linga said in an ambush interview on Monday.

The following are allowed by the city health department to be sold in school canteens and stores: milled, brown rice, iron-fortified rice; fried rice (plain); corn (boiled); oatmeal; whole wheat bread pandesal; biscuits (no filling); bread buns; breadstick; bread like pinaputok, monay, or any “unfilled bread”; plain cupcakes (no filling); cornflakes (plain); unflavored popcorn; empanada; pancake (no syrup); cheese waffles; sandwiches (cheese, egg, tuna, chicken filling, peanut butter); boiled root crops such as cassava (kamoteng kahoy), sweet potato (kamote), yam (gabi), taro, arrow root (uraro); boiled saging na saba; boiled corn or nilagang mais; and binatog.

Other food on the list are boiled peanuts; suman sa ibos; puto (with cheese) , bibingka; kakanin (kutsinta, sapin sapin, biko, palitaw, nilupak); squash maja; maja blanca (cornstarch); ginataang bilo-bilo na may sago; ginataang malagkit with/without corn/ munggo; saba con yelo; sotanghon with vegetables; pasta — spaghetti, lasagna, baked macaroni, carbonara; pancit canton/miki with vegetables; lomi; arroz caldo/ lugaw / goto champorado; macaroni soup/ sopas with vegetables; misua with meatballs; pritong lumpiang togue lumpiang ubod; stir-fried vegetables fishes; shellfish; small shrimps; lean meat; chicken without skin nuts; boiled / fried egg; green, leafy and yellow vegetables; fresh fruits; potable water; unflavored water; unsweetened milk; unsweetened fresh buko juices; and 100 percent fresh fruit juices.

On the other hand, school canteens are not allowed to sell the following: food that are not indigenous; food that are not made of natural products; fortified food such as “sitsirya”, instant noodles; low nutritional content, high in calories (above 40 kcal per 100 g (solids), 20 kcal per 100 ml (liquid); high salt (above 120mg/100g); high fat (above 3 g per 100 g (solids), 1.5 g per 100 ml (liquids) boiled quail eggs; pre-packaged snack food (chips, chicharon); processed food (hotdogs, sausage, burger patties, chicken nuggets, tocino, tapa, corned beef bacon, longganisa); jelly, ice crushes, slushies, ice cream, ice drops, ice candies; cakes, donuts, bicho-bicho, sweet biscuits, and pastries, and other sweet bakery products; breadpan; chocolates, hard chewy candies, chewing gums, marshmallows, lollipops, yemas; deep-fried food such as french fries, shing-a-ling, fishballs, kikiam, tokneneng, squidballs, calamares, chicken skin; banana cue, camote cue, maruya; pilipit, karioka, turon; soft drinks or colas; and any liquid substances made for drinking which are carbon-based alcoholic drinks; sports water.

Also not banned in school canteens are vitamin waters; cultured milk; sports drinks; flavored mineral water; energy drinks; electrolyte drinks; sweetened milk; yoghurt; sweetened ice tea; chocolate drink; lemonade and other “ades”; sweetened water; powdered juice drinks; fruit juices; palamig — shakes, fruit punches; caffeine-containing drinks; and any processed fruit/vegetable juice with added sugar of more than 20 grams or 4 teaspoons per serving.

Processed foods such as hotdog and meat loaf are not allowed to be used as ingredients in student meals. Condiments such as toyo and patis should not be made available on dining tables.

Food with too much oil is also prohibited. Cooking methods should only require little or no fat oil such as steaming, boiling, sautéing, pan frying, and baking.

Visible fat and skin of the meat should be removed before cooking the meal. Salt and other condiments in foods should be reduced. Using artificial flavors should also be avoided.

The compliance of school canteens will be monitored daily by a focal person appointed by the school principal. The daily menu should always be posted in front of the canteen. Advertisements or promotions from junk foods and sugary drink products should not be allowed.

“Lahat po ng oras kahit naka-uniporme o hindi nakauniporme, bawal ho talaga kayong magtinda ng sugary drinks at junk food sa mga bata (All the time even in uniform or not, you are not really allowed to sell sugary drinks and junk food to children),” Linga said.

In 2013, the Department of Education issued Division Order No. 65 series of 2013, reiterating the prohibition on sale, distribution and bringing of junk foods and carbonated drinks at school canteens.

“Magkaagapay po tayo, magkatulong tayo ng mga magulang at lokal na pamahalaan ng Quezon City upang maitaguyod ang isang mamamayan na malusog kaya nananawagan ako na kung puwede po sana, wag na po nating bentahan ang mga bata ng sugary drinks at yung junk foods (We are helping one another, we are coordinating with the parents and the local government of Quezon City to promote a citizen who is healthy, hence, I’m calling on everyone if possible, we should not sell sugary drinks and junk foods to children),” Linga added. (PNA)