Person-in-charge trained in implementing nutritional guidelines must by September

By September, they will have to assign food safety managers known as Persons-In-Charge or PICs who are trained in implementing nutritional guidelines in school canteens.

The Permits and Applied Nutrition Section of Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department, which implements the nutritional guidelines in school canteens developed in collaboration with Dubai Health Authority, has sent out a circular in this regard to private schools.

The civic body had already made PICs for food safety mandatory for school canteens to enhance safety and hygiene of food served to schoolchildren. However, 30 per cent of schools are yet to have one, said a municipality official.
The new rule has made it mandatory for them to be trained in nutritional guidelines as well to ensure that children are served nutritious foods.

The nutritional guidelines were issued in September 2017 as part of the school health policy aimed at reducing the incidence of childhood obesity and diabetes in children caused by over consumption of unhealthy food and inadequate physical activities.

The focus is on declaration of nutritional information of foods served to kids; control over portion size and restrictions on unhealthy foods such as fatty, sugary items.

Schools were given time to implement these guidelines, said Jehaina Al Ali, principal food studies and surveys officer in the Permits and Applied Nutrition Section.

“Now we want to ensure 100 per cent compliance of the guidelines from the new academic year starting in September,” she told Gulf News.

A new module on nutritional guidelines has been added to the training materials for the PICs and the municipality will start piloting it from July.

There are more than 300 private schools in Dubai, which form about 70 per cent of schools in the emirates. PICs for canteens in these schools must be someone from the school side.

“The food suppliers should have their own PICs for their business. But they cannot replace the school PICs. We prefer schools assigning a PIC from their side for the benefit of the students.”

It is very important that someone who makes the decision about foods in the canteen becomes the PIC — someone who deals with the food suppliers and also cares for children’s health, said Al Ali.

High sugar drinks, oversized portions, food items loaded with sugar, salt and saturated fat are off the menu in school canteens under the new guidelines. PICs should ensure the compliance of these rules.

A criterion on implementing nutritional guidelines is added for suppliers of school canteens as well. PICs with food suppliers of school canteens must ensure that the food list for school canteen is approved by the municipality.
“If the schools or the suppliers decide to sell anything outside from the permitted list, they would be fined for the violation. It will affect their inspection reports,” warned Al Ali.