First grade school children kids class 311.
(photo credit: Marc Sellem Israel/The Jerusalem Post)
The Health Ministry now has almost no input as to the quality and kinds of food
sold in school kiosks and served in cafeterias, according to Ze’ev Fisch, the
ministry’s national supervisor for environmental health.
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Tuesday before the Knesset Education Committee, Fisch charged that the ministry
had recently lost influence on nutritional conditions in educational
institutions because of outsourcing by the Education Ministry.
be professionals in the fields of health, hygiene and food engineering –
regulation and supervision must be the responsibility of the Health Ministry,
and not of the Education Ministry or other bodies,” Fisch said.
Education Committee, chaired by MK Alex Miller, decided to turn to the
government for an official definition of Health Ministry responsibility in
educational institutions; and to ask the ministry to prohibit the use of E-122
and E-124 synthetic color food additives.
E-122, known as azorubine or
carmoisine, is a synthetic red food dye that may be present in jams, preserves,
yogurts, bread crumbs, marzipan and other processed foods. Experts recommend it
be eliminated from children’s diets as it is suspected of causing
E-124, also known as ponceau 4R, produces a red/scarlet
color. It is usually synthesized from aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum and
may intensify asthma symptoms; in the US and Scandinavia, it is regarded as a
Miller noted that overweight and obesity is becoming common
in schoolchildren due to their consumption of cheap processed foods at or near
school and in the home. Studies presented at the committee meeting showed that
while haredi and Beduin children have a higher rate of underweight, other Jews
and Arabs suffer from overweight.
Since 2007, according to the Knesset’s
information service, meals provided by some educational institutions to needy
(and other) children have been supervised by a private company called Marnemet,
rather than by state specialists.
Miller said that Education Ministry
supervision of subsidized meals in schools does not cover nutrition, only
hygiene or composition of the food, and whether it is suited to the menus set by
the Health Ministry.
The committee MKs were told that since 2006, the
Education Ministry has been issuing a circular forbidding the sale by school
cafeterias, vending machines and kiosks of high-fat, sweet and salty foods such
as potato chips, burekas, hot dogs, cakes, cookies and candy, and soft drinks.
But these regulations are not enforced, the MKs were told.
the Education Ministry’s supervisor of health matters, said school principals
have no influence over what is sold in school kiosks – not to mention those
outside and nearby – since it is the local authorities, rather than the Health
Ministry, that hand out business licenses.
“We are for ministry
supervision of what is sold,” said Livneh, “but the government decided
Miller concluded with the committee’s call on Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, who is formally the health minister, to transfer
responsibility for supervising food and nutrition services and sales from the
Education Ministry to the Health Ministry. He also demanded that the Education
Ministry conduct a survey of schools to find out which institutions observe the
regulations, and which do not.