Thursday, March 21, 2013


     Jakarta, March 20, 2013 (Antara) - Parents whose children study in State Junior High School (SMPN) 194 in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta, could feel at ease allowing their children to buy food and beverages in the school's canteens.
         "Our canteens do not sell colorful snacks and beverages. For drinks, we can only buy bottled mineral water, milk or tea. We don't  have soft drinks nor instant noodles in the canteens which are tightly supervised by the teachers," Hani, a seven-grade student of SMPN 194, said recently.  

    SMPN 194 located in Duren Sawit has been named as the second winner in Jakarta's Healthy Schools Championship in 2013.

         The "green" school's teachers supervise the canteens to make sure that no food and beverages using synthetic dyes, preservatives, and MSG are sold there.
         Good health and nutrition are needed for concentration, regular school attendance and optimum class performance of the younger generation.
         And schools provide an important setting for promoting health as they reach over one billion children worldwide.
         SMPN 194, however, is one of few schools having good canteens in Indonesia, because a 2007 survey showed that 84.30 percent of school canteens in the country did not meet the health requirements. 
    The survey was conducted by the education ministry's physical quality development center in 640 elementary schools in 20 provinces throughout Indonesia.
         Many of the canteens offered food and beverages that did not meet the healthy nutrient, hygiene and safety criteria, and such a condition could harm children's health.
         A number of children's snacks sold at many schools in a number of cities contain hazardous chemical substances such as borax, textile color dyes and formaldehyde.
         Borax or borax acid is antiseptic used for detergent and if eaten, it could cause digestion problem, diarrhea, and kidney damage, she said. However, borax is often used to make meatball, fresh noodle and crackers.
         Formaldehyde is chemical substance usually used for disinfectant and plywood adhesive as well as disinfectant. However, it is also sometimes used to preserve tofu and fresh noodle. Formaldehyde could cause diarrhea, headache, level, brain and cardiac damages.
         Synthetic dyes for textile, Rhodamin B (red) and Methanil Yellow are often used in making sauce, crackers and cakes. It might harm digestive system and lever's function.
         "School canteens are crucial in providing food and beverages which are healthy and safe for children," Prof Siti Madanijah of the Bogor Agriculture Institute (IPB)'s Human Ecology Faculty, said in a seminar on healthy canteens in Bogor in February 2013.
         "A school canteen is an indicator of a healthy school," she stated.
         The government regulation No. 19/2005 on the Education National Standard (SNP) states that every education institution is obliged to have facilities and infrastructures such as school canteens. The education ministry also has a regulation no. 57/2009 on the financial
assistance for the development of healthy schools.
         "It's time for school principles, teachers, students and parents to be actively involved in establishing healthy canteens in schools in line with the government's regulations," she said.
         Many foods offered in the public do not have adequate nutrients, contain food coloring agent, preservatives, and are not hygiene, she stated.
         Prof Hadinsyah, a nutritionist of IPB said health food could help create quality and reliable younger generation.  Nutritious food could help develop children's brains so they could absorb school lessons effectively, he added.
         The Indonesian Drug and Food Supervision Agency (BPOM) has been making efforts to stop the sale of snacks containing hazardous chemical substances at or near schools.
         BPOM has been trying to deal with the problem by operating mobile laboratories to check snacks being offered at schools.
         The mobile's laboratory operators take samples of the snacks and then brief school managers and snack traders.
         In 2010, BPOM had 22 mobile laboratories being operated in six cities, namely Serang, Surabaya, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Bandung and Jakarta. But, the ideal number should be at least 140 mobile laboratories to serve all provinces.  
    BPOM checked at least 18,000 canteens of elementary schools throughout Indonesia in 2012. In 2013, the agency has targeted to check at least 22,500 school canteens, according to BPOM Chairman Lucky S Slamet in December 2012.
         She stated that Indonesia has paid more attention on food safety prior to the ASEAN Community 2015. 
    The agency has targeted a 78 percent reduction in toxic or potentially carcinogenic foods sold at 288 schools that were part of a pilot project launched in 2009.
         The 288 schools received a total of Rp 10 billion ($1 million) from the Ministry of National Education to build healthy canteens.
         "The surveillance and awareness campaign about the dangers of these chemicals and toxic substances in food has been able to reduce the circulation of dangerous foods in school cafeterias," she said.
         She added that though the 288 schools had made significant progress, a number of foods that could, if ingested over a long period, cause harm were still prevalent, if not in the schools themselves, then in small stalls set up by vendors outside the school gates.
         According to her, the dangerous substances were most commonly found in noodles and colored crackers, drinks and candy.
         To help promote healthy schools, UNESCO's Jakarta Office has supported a program of environmentally friendly elementary schools and revitalization of elementary school canteens in the Indonesian capital city.
         The program had been implemented since July 2009 by involving around 50 elementary schools in Jakarta, according to Nuning Wirjoatmodjo, the program's coordinator, several years ago.
         Food sold in Indonesian school canteens in general does not meet health standards, according to Andang Widhawari Gunawan ND, a nutritionist, when speaking at a workshop on school canteen revitalization and climate change sponsored by UNESCO Jakarta Office at environmentally friendly kampong Banjarsari, Cipete, South Jakarta,last December 2009.
         Quite a number of children were suffering from diseases such as cancer, diabetes and high cholesterol which are supposed to be found only in adults, she said.
         According to UNESCO, good health and nutrition are needed to achieve one's full educational potential because nutrition affects intellectual development and learning ability.
         Many studies report significant links between nutritional status
and cognitive test scores or school performance. Children with more
adequate diets score higher on tests of factual knowledge than those with less adequate nutrition.
         Schools offer more effective, efficient and equal opportunities than any other setting to promote health and healthy eating.
         Classes for younger pupils provide excellent opportunities
because eating habits are formed early in life. In addition, schools have the potential not only to reach students, but also school staff, teachers, parents and community members, including out-of-school youth.***4***

(T.F001/A/F. Assegaf/Bustanuddin) 20-03-2013 14:02:38

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