City standardizes nutritious meals for students

Writer: Zhang Yu  |  Editor: Holly Wang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2021-03-23

Shenzhen has pledged to safeguard students’ health and nutrition, and will pilot building nutrition canteens that can be monitored intelligently through a meal-planning information platform for primary and secondary schools starting this year.

The city’s health commission, the education bureau, and the market supervision and regulation bureau yesterday jointly released an implementation plan for standardizing the production and distribution of nutritious meals for students.

According to the plan, nutrition canteens’ meals should include at least three of the four food groups including: (1) cereals and potatoes, (2) fruits and vegetables, (3) fish, poultry, meat and eggs, and (4) milk, beans and nuts.

Meanwhile, dairy products such as pure milk and low-fat yogurt, instead of milk drinks, should be served at every meal.

The canteens should carry out measures to reduce salt, oil and sugar in students’ meals, and work to ensure that students’ daily intake of salt, edible oil and added sugar will be no more than 5 grams, 25-30 grams and 25 grams, respectively.

Canteens will not be allowed to sell oily, fatty and sugary foods such as potato chips, French fries, cakes, spicy gluten (辣条 or latiao), sugary drinks (milk tea, juice, carbonated drinks, milk drinks, etc.), as per the plan.

The canteens will also cooperate with schools and professionals to develop nutrition improvement plans for students who suffer from nutrition-related conditions such as being overweight, obesity, malnutrition and anemia. In addition, the canteens should provide personalized meals for students with specific dietary needs.

The plan has also stressed that employees who engage in producing and distributing student meals should receive meal-planning and food safety training, and can only take up the post after receiving a qualification certificate.

In order to better help schools and enterprises provide nutritious meals for students, Shenzhen has also developed a meal-planning information platform that can automatically calculate the nutrition value of each meal.

It is proposed that the platform should be used by all school canteens and student meal delivery enterprises in the city by 2025, according to the plan.

The rollout of the plan aims to address the pressing need to make students healthier, as nutrition-related problems have been rising in young people lately.

According to the physical examination results of nearly 1.4 million local primary and secondary school students from 2018 to 2019, the overweight and obesity rates of students reached 12.31 percent and 8.42 percent, which means that at least one in 10 students is overweight.

The malnutrition and anemia rates of local primary and secondary school students stood at 9.74 percent and 3.23 percent, respectively.