No junk food in school canteens

Muscat: canteens, you are being watched. Canteens are being monitored by the civic body, which will carry out ‘flash checks’ from time to time to ensure healthy and hygienic food is sold there. A senior official from the Department of Health Affairs at the Muscat Municipality said no school canteen will be allowed to sell junk or unhealthy food. A total of 604,767 students began their new academic year on Sunday. Although most canteens are governed by the school management, some have been outsourced. “The department concerned at the Muscat Municipality keeps a vigil on canteens run in schools with the aim of ensuring that they are selling healthy food,” said the official.

“No expired or unhealthy food will be allowed to be sold at these canteens,” he said. It has come to the notice of authorities that expired foods and unhygienic snacks and beverages high in artificial colours, preservatives and chemicals are sold in some school canteens. “Health departments in every governorate will keep an eye on the school canteens in their respective jurisdictions and take appropriate action.” Meanwhile, the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) has said it was keeping a vigil on retail outlets that might try to take advantage.

“Since it is ‘back to school’ time when parents shop for school materials before and after the opening of schools, we are keeping a watch on the market,” said a PACP source. Market inspections have been going on across all governorates and “anyone found engaging in prohibited trade practices will be dealt with accordingly,” he said. According to the source, the department has stepped up inspection campaigns in commercial markets to ensure suppliers do not take advantage of high demand for school materials such as books, bags and stationery and charge a hefty price.