Latvian government bans "unhealthy" food in schools

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Tuesday August 22, 2006

Riga- The Latvian government voted on Tuesday to ban the sale of "unhealthy" food and drink in the country's schools. The list of banned substances drawn up by Latvia's Ministry of Health is wide-ranging and controversial. It covers all foodstuffs and drinks containing artificial colouring and flavouring agents, preservatives, amino-acids or caffeine.

Foodstuffs containing excessive levels of salt - such as crisps - will also be banned.

To replace the banned treats and sweets, the government is to promote the consumption of healthy alternatives, such as dried fruit, nuts, fruit juice and milk.

The health ministry is concerned about the health implications of children's regular consumption of food with artificial additives, the Leta news agency reported. Child obesity is rising in Latvia, though it has not yet reached levels seen in the UK or USA.

Not all Americans have praised the ban, however. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently criticised the proposed law for including drinks produced by the Coca-Cola corporation, calling it discriminatory.

The ban, which will apply to all kindergartens and schools, will come into force on November 1.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur