Davao City to ban junk foods in schools

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 3 July) – The city council’s committee on education has asked the Department of Education, as well as the City Health Office and other stakeholders, to form part of a technical working group that would define “junk food” in the drafting of an ordinance banning junk food in the city’s schools and premises.

In a committee hearing Tuesday at the Fuschia Room of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, education committee chair Maria Belen Acosta asked members of the departments as well as officials of schools to sit together and hammer out details of the ban.

The creation of the technical working group came about when DepEd nutrition officials revealed a memo released in June 20 identifying “safe” food to be sold and prohibited in schools.

In an interview, DepEd division medical officer Grace Berguia said that Nenita E. Lumaad, regional director OIC, issued an addendum to DepEd Order No. 8, series of 2007, and itemized the food items into “recommended food,” “regulated food,” and “prohibited food.”

The recommended food were as follows:

– fresh fruits in season and vegetables from reputable suppliers;

– cooked foods, prepared and cooked in the school canteen or from reputable suppliers;
vegetable recipes, hot soup, one dish meal, toppings, banana (saba), corn, root crops, native delicacies, peanuts, rice, viand (nutritious and affordable), pancit bihon/canton;

– pork/chicken barbecue, siomai, siopao, sandwiches with nutritious filling (processed fillings are discouraged), juices and beverages prepared in the school canteen or from reputable suppliers such as fresh fruit juices and shakes;

– safe bottled water, yoghurt, milk and milk products, ready to eat products, freshly baked breads from reputable bakeries, biscuits, cakes, mamon, muffins, cupcakes, mamon tostado, biscocho.

The regulated food items were to be sold either once a month or once a week, with some items having an updated approval from the Bureau of Food and Drugs.

The food to be sold once a week are chichiria with sangkap pinoy seal, french fries, synthetic juices (artificially flavored and colored juice drinks in bottle/plastic, tetra pack), pizza, doughnuts, scramble, chocolate drinks, dirty ice cream, cookies; processed foods, such as hotdogs, ham, chorizo, tocino, longganiza, fish ball, kikiam, squid balls, canned foods, kwek-kwek with food coloring were also regulated and recommended sold only once a week.

Candies, chocolate candies, tea based juice drinks, packed and cup noodles, pastillas, yema, and polvoron are only available once a month.

Soft drinks, including those sold to teachers, are prohibited in public schools.

In an interview, DepEd administrative officer Gerard Pil lauded the proposed ordinance and said public schools have had to contend with ambulant vendors selling junk food outside their premises despite the DepEd memorandum.

“The ordinance would help enforce the DepEd memo,” he said.

Pil said the proposed ordinance would help face health issues with food sold inside and outside schools, especially those that have magic sugar.

Councilor Rachel Zozobrado, who was the proponent of the ban, said the ordinance would also cover private schools.

She added there were already at least four private schools that have voluntarily banned junk food in their premises.