Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng had earlier stated in Parliament that the food and beverages (F&B) sold in school canteens must comply with the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB’s) guidelines, in which only drinks with sugar content equal to or less than 6 g/100 ml are allowed to be sold.
Mr Ng was responding to questions filed by Mr Melvin Yong, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, who asked the Minister for Education (Schools) on the steps taken to minimise the sale of beverages that are high in sugar and caffeine content in government school canteens and whether there are guidelines on the nutritional value and types of food and beverages allowed for sale in tertiary institutions.
The Minister noted that the limit is a reduction from the previous guideline of 7 g/100 ml.
“Our teachers encourage students to drink plain water and schools have installed water fountains for their convenience,” he said.
He also stated that HPB’s other guidelines require stallholders to use healthier ingredients and to include four food groups – carbohydrates, proteins, fruit and vegetables. However, there are no guidelines on caffeine.
He noted that similarly, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) are actively working with HPB and their F&B operators to provide and promote healthier options on campus. Healthier options include lower calorie meals, meals with higher nutrition value (e.g. wholegrains) and lower sugar beverages.
According to the Minister, currently, over 50 F&B outlets, representing about 30% of the total number of F&B outlets at the IHLs, offer healthier options under the HPB’s Healthier Dining Programme. The IHLs are working with the other F&B outlets to increase participation in this programme.