Calorie content labels for school canteen food

The Education Ministry has been asked to advise canteen operators to provide a total calorie content label for each type of food sold as a guide for schoolchildren.

Health Minister, Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this measure would help build a culture of healthy eating among pupils and help them learn and understand the importance of good nutrition.

“Studies by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia showed nasi lemak, nasi ayam and fried noodles to be most popular with schoolchildren and we suggest that canteens provide a variety of food and not a few types only.

“In light of this, my ministry has advised the Education Ministry to get canteen operators provide calorie content labels for food to enable students to follow the guidelines provided by the ministry,” he said in reply to a supplementary question from Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Tan wanted to know the Health Ministry’s follow-up action to ensure the healthy eating guidelines are adhered by all parties concerned and that selling of unhealthy food outside the school premises is under control.

Liow said the labelling of calorie content should also be of concern to both schools and parents as it could become a form of education to encourage children to eat a healthy diet.

“If we could, we would like to have guidelines on the ideal frequency of consuming food among schoolchildren,” he said, adding that his ministry with the Education Ministry had issued a directive to ban selling of food outside the
school perimeters.

Liow said monitoring by the Health Ministry found that schoolchildren were fond of buying snacks like crackers and sweets that offered toys, and these were not allowed to be sold to them.

To the original question from Halimah Mohd Sadique (BN-Tenggara) on whether the government would relook at the healthy lifestyle campaign launched in 1992 which was seen as not so effective, Liow said both ministries were
constantly updating the guidelines so that monitoring could be carried out from time to time at school canteens to ensure healthy eating among students.

– Bernama