Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trans fats banned from schools in Manitoba

Legislation banning sale of trans fats in foods served in Manitoba schools was proclaimed just as students headed back to class on Wednesday.

The amendments to the Public Schools Act also set up food and nutrition guidelines for schools, ensuring healthier fare is served to students, said Education, Citizenship and Youth Minister Peter Bjornson, who made the announcement on Wednesday with Healthy Living Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross.

"Teaching children to make healthy food choices when they are young helps them build healthy lives," said Bjornson. "This legislation will ensure schools give Manitoba children and youth the support they need to make positive choices and support their health."

Under the legislation, school boards are required to make sure artificial trans fats are not contained in packaged foods or other food products a school sells or distributes to students.

The rules also require that vegetable oil or spreadable margarine products used in the preparation of foods at a school do not exceed two per cent of the product's total fat content; and the trans fat content of other foods, excluding meat or dairy products, must not exceed five per cent of the food's total fat content.

Exceptions will be made for special circumstances, such as a student's lunch brought from home, school bake sales, hot dog days or pizza lunches if the food items are not available in the school every day, Bjornson said, noting the changes were made after consultations with school divisions over the past year.

"The Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures Task Force was told about the unhealthy food and beverage choices that confront children, young people and families on a daily basis," said Irvin-Ross. "Promoting healthy food choices in schools and reducing the availability of unhealthy foods will support our young people."

The legislation also requires a school's advisory council or local school committee to review food and nutrition policies at least once a year. As well, actions to implement the policies must be reported in the school's annual plan.

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