New Delhi, Jan. 27: Alarmed by reports of the burgeoning obese population and a general decline in health standards, the government today decided to launch a campaign to educate people, especially in rural areas, about the hazards of junk food.
The government has asked a committee of secretaries to work out a policy on food processing, including production services, to enact integrated food laws to promote healthcare and put a halt to the aggressive marketing of processed food by multinational companies.
The government is also planning to fix stringent norms for food products and other related services in rural areas so that innocent and illiterate people do not get easily lured by MNCs. With rising awareness among city dwellers about the hazards of fried and processed food, the companies will soon target villagers, government sources said.
In Delhi, several public schools have decided to ban junk food from canteens following reports of obesity among children.
A group of ministers on the food processing policy, of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Sharad Yadav, health minister Shatrughan Sinha, law minister Jana Krishnamurthi and minister of state for food processing Shanmugham met today. Disinvestment minister Arun Shourie is also member of the GoM but could not attend as he was busy with his own ministry work.
The ministries concerned will pool in resources and use multimedia to educate people.
Local panchayats, Doordarshan and the government media will be used to launch the awareness campaign.
According to government sources, MNCs are now targeting food-surplus areas for marketing their products and services. They have identified several districts in Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh for intensive operation.