By Chito Chavez
The Quezon City Council has pushed for further scrutiny of the list of banned junk foods and drinks in public schools after the consultation with school principals and vendors who expressed concern over the list of banned foods under the approved anti-junk food ordinance.
Quezon City Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte. (Mark Balmores/MANILA BULLETIN)
“Everybody agrees that the ordinance is fine. Everybody is supporting it. It is the implementing rules and regulations where the list of banned food items is stated that is the problem,” Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte said.
Approved in June 2017, the Anti-Junk Food and Sugary Drinks Ordinance prohibits the selling and promotion of junk food, sugary drinks, and processed foods to preparatory, elementary and high school students inside and within 100 meters from school premises of public and private schools in Quezon City.
Under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the ordinance, the list of banned food items includes sweetened drinks, chips, biscuits with filling, fries, hotdog and other processed meats, instant noodles, and candies, among others.
However, Belmonte said her office had received position papers from public school principals in the city that revealed they “were not happy” with the manner of implementation of the ordinance.
“We consulted a third-party nutritionist who pointed out that some of the food items banned – like yogurt – are healthy and can be allowed,” said Belmonte, citing that there was “room for improvement” in the list of banned food items,’’ she added..
Since the IRR is under the jurisdiction of the city health department, a joint consultative meeting was conducted on July 31 to discuss the banned foods list with city health officials, school principals, school vendors, parent associations, cooperatives and other stakeholders.
“All of the 109 principals or school representatives who attended agreed to our suggestion that, since the list is not really thoroughly reviewed by the authorized representative during a consultation, we will review the list and the manner of the inspection,” said Councilor Irene Belmonte.
She added that the principals and vendors also raised concerns over the procedures of the inspection.
“Since this is a school institution where children are involved, we have to be extra sensitive when we inspect these kinds of place. We need to consider the welfare not only of the school but also of the kids when we handle the inspection,” the councilor said, adding that there are “no clear guidelines yet” on inspection as per the IRR.
The council hopes to work with the city health department to resolve the issues related with the ordinance within the month.