Guidelines for school canteens ban burgers and sausages.
KUALA LUMPUR: School canteens can serve nasi lemak only twice a week while burgers, sausages and nuggets are banned under new Health Ministry guidelines starting next month.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said the new guidelines focused on the number of times foods were sold every week and healthier food preparation methods to reduce obesity among students.
“Canteen operators must follow the frequency and preparation methods and use minimal sugar, salt, oil and santan,” she said after launching the first scientist conference by the ministry here yesterday.
However, the National Union of the Teaching Profession said the ministry should be more concerned about what students ate outside school, while some non-governmental organisations were upset that the ministry wanted to control the sale of nasi lemak.
Rosnah said health officers would conduct checks to ensure canteen operators followed the guidelines.
The list of more than 70 allowed foods to be sold includes fried rice (twice a week), lontong (once a week), nasi pulut (once a week), fried mee hoon or kuey teow (every day), curry mee (once a week) and laksa (twice a week).
Rosnah said most of the food items in canteens could now be provided to students if operators prepared them in a healthy way and in the allowed frequency.
She said a study by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) showed that obesity among pupils had increased from 11 per cent in 2002 to 13.3 per cent in 2008.
“We want to see a change in schoolchildren’s eating habits.” Banned foods include instant noodles, chocolates, sweets, ice cream, coffee, tea, carbonated drinks and flavoured drinks, except milk.
Others banned are food and drinks with artificial colouring and flavouring, those that resemble toys, expired food, food sold with toys, preserved food and food or drinks with alcohol.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said last week that the previous guidelines were not complete as they listed only appropriate food items but not the frequency they could be sold.
He said the UKM study showed that 86.6 per cent of students bought food and drinks in canteens, and this called for new guidelines to reduce obesity among them.
The study showed that nasi lemak, fried noodles and chicken rice were schoolchildren’s favourite foods, while burgers were the most popular fast food (34.4 per cent) followed by fried chicken (26.5 per cent) and pizza.