SHAH ALAM: The Association of School Canteen Operators of Malaysia wants to meet Deputy Education Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin within the next two weeks to resolve several issues concerning school canteens.
Its president William Huee said the association in early April sent Aziz a letter containing survey findings of foods sold in canteens throughout the country.
“Our review found that many school canteens are still selling junk food, particularly in Pahang and Terengganu. We are very worried as the food sold is affecting the health of our children,” he said yesterday at the association’s secretariat.
He said among the unhealthy foods being sold were fizzy drinks, certain types of jelly, sweets and popcorn that contain artificial colouring, cili boh containing more than the permissible amount of benzoic acid, as well as drinks made with red dye.
Besides this, Huee said the survey also found that some school co-operatives that were not supposed to sell food have been found selling junk food, as were some school bus drivers and hawkers.
“This is very worrying as we have seen some of the food sold by these hawkers outside the school gates. The oil they use for deep-frying is black,” he said.
Huee said canteens are supposed to operate according to the School Canteen Guidelines developed by the education and health ministries, and the Food Act.
Klang Malay Canteen Operators Association secretary Abdul Rahman Abdul Rahim claimed many canteens in the Klang area were not following the guidelines, but said that the guidelines may have been “a bit vague”.
“It is time that the education ministry comes up with a more uniform set of guidelines, which spell out clearly what can and cannot be sold, and strictly enforces this,” he said.
“There is no point saying canteens cannot sell a particular type of jelly which is deemed to contain unsafe colouring while at the same time school co-operatives continue to sell it.”