School canteens to sell only goods bearing gov’t approved logo in Turkey

School canteens to sell only goods bearing gov’t approved logo in Turkey

Meltem Özgenç – ANKARA
School canteens to sell only goods bearing gov’t approved logo in Turkey

School canteens across Turkey will as of the 2019-2020 school year sell only food items bearing a “government approved” logo as per a newly launched regulation. The relevant logo has been designed for schools to offer healthier choices for students.

“The foods with too much energy intake will never be sold at canteens. Commercial concerns will be left aside. Our children’s health is more important than anything else,” said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Jan. 2 during a signing ceremony of the protocol named “Cooperation protocol regarding foods to be sold at school canteens and the logo implementation for these foods.”

The initiative is a joint cooperation between the Health Ministry, Education Ministry, and Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry. The relevant protocol was signed by Koca, Education Minister Ziya Selçuk, and Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Bekir Pakdemirli in the capital Ankara.

“Mothers and fathers will hand over their children to the school environment with more ease, knowing that foods will be accessible to the kids. When our children are preparing for life, apart from a good education, it is also important that their physical and mental developments are also strong. Bad eating habits, like taking in high-calorie foods and consuming sugared and carbonated beverages in an unrestrained way, form the basis of many illnesses, such as obesity that starts early in life, orthopedic development disorder, diabetics, and cardiovascular diseases,” said Koca.

Pakdemirli said some 25 percent of students in Turkey were “overweight.” Not only school life but also home life is very important for education, according to Pakdemirli. “What we are trying to accomplish in school should also be undertaken at home. If we get children used to healthy eating habits in school, and parents get them used to them at home, then we would guarantee the future generations,” he said.

“We have over 17 million students [in Turkey]. This is a very big market. If our producers are to produce products in line with the [new] guidelines, it would also be an important earning for them,” he said.  

Selçuk said a healthy eating habit would lead to “a more productive” society. “As food gets more energy-dense, more problems start to rise in terms of productivity in education activities. Both hyperactivity and attention deficiencies arise,” Selçuk said.