Abu Dhabi:Nearly 150 representatives from private schools across the emirate of Abu Dhabi have recently been trained regarding healthy eating habits, including the types of foods that should be made available in school canteens to pupils of different age groups.
The training also focussed on food serving standards, which are part of the canteen guidelines in the emirate first issued about three years ago.
While all 184 private schools in Abu Dhabi are currently complying with these regulations, the training was organised to emphasise the need for private schools to select certified food vendors, Hilal Al Marzouqi, head of the school canteens committee at the Adec, told Gulf News.
“Studies have shown that preventing unhealthy foods from being served at schools plays a significant role in reducing the incidence of diseases like obesity and diabetes in a society.
“Healthier eating also contributes to better academic performance,” Dr Arwa Al Modwahi, senior officer in community health at the HAAD, said at the workshop.
School canteen guidelines for Abu Dhabi emirate were developed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), in collaboration with the Health Authority Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), to encourage healthy eating among the youth and reduce the burden of diseases in the emirate.
Among the food items banned from being served in school canteens are processed meat, chips, French fries, chocolates, candies and ice creams. All energy drinks and soft drinks are also prohibited.
“Minor amendments are made to the list of banned and allowed food items each year,” Al Marzouqi explained.
The guidelines also include instructions to ensure food safety, including methods of proper storage, serving and disposal.
“Ensuring that all these standards are met is the responsibility of each private school principal.
“The ADFCA also regularly conducts inspections across public and private schools,” he added.
While Adec must approve vendors and canteen staff for public schools, private schools can select their canteen staff from approved companies or from among those who have been certified by the ADFCA.
“More workshops will be conducted throughout the 2013-2013 academic year in public and private schools. In addition, people can notify the Adec if they find a vendor serving banned items,” Al Marzouqi said.