The program would be driven by the country’s Food and Drugs Supervising Agency, which will launch a campaign against unhealthy packaged and unpackaged food products sold to school children.
A spokesperson for the agency told FoodNavigator-Asia that the campaign would be targeted at vendors that sold food products outside schools, who more than 48% of schoolchildren-bought snacks from in 2008 [Ministry of Health Data].
“Indonesia is a young country with almost 50 million children between the ages of 6 to 18, of which 30 million are under 12. Our aim is to make sure that these children grow up in a healthy food environment,” she said.
The campaign would consist of two parts, according to her, the first of which consist of educational initiatives to teach elementary students about the harm caused by unhealthy snacks using parents, other agencies, and teachers.
The second aspect of the campaign would see the agency work with the country’s Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises to assist in carrying out checks at food manufacturers.
“Typically, the food products sold by these vendors are produced at small and medium enterprises, while there are bigger companies selling via them too. Our aim is inspect food products before they reach schools,” she revealed.
This is also because schools do not have the ability and capacity to carry out food checks themselves, she pointed out, adding that there are about 300,000 elementary schools across Indonesia which is, “too many for us to cover alone.”
A survey conducted by the agency and the Bogor Institute of Agriculture, snacks offered to students at school accounted for 35% of their total food intake, and worryingly more than 30% of these snacks did not meet the agency standards.
The survey saw researchers from the agency, and the institute, take samples of school snacks through the deployment of mobile laboratories at schools across provinces in Indonesia.
It revealed that such food products contained dangerous chemicals such as benzoate, saccharin and cyclamate, and also a dangerous level of microbe contaminants.
Additionally, many food products did not meet even the most basic of mandatory restrictions on the use of prohibited substances like formalin, borax and methanol yellow dyes.