Students urged not to eat lead-contaminated foods sold by ambulant vendors
Cebu City (4 June) -- With classes due to open soon, teachers are urged to dissuade students from eating foods sold by ambulant vendors outside the schools.
Department of Health (DOH-7) Environmental Health Program Coordinator Engr. Evangeline Canoneo bared foods sold just outside the school premises by ambulant vendors are high in lead content due to exposure to vehicle emissions.
"Foods sold by ambulant vendors have been found to be high in lead content which is toxic to one's health," Canoneo said.
Lead is one of the pollutants from gasoline-fueled vehicles and major exposure to lead has been shown to cause neurological disorders, reproductive problems, diminished intelligence and a host of other illness, this is said.
Under the Sanitation Code, use of utensils by ambulant vendors are prohibited which is why most of them opted to use sticks for fish and squid balls or donning transparent plastic bags to eat puso (rice) and fried foods in baskets otherwise known as 'pungko-pungko,' Canoneo said.
DepEd-7 Education Supervisor Dr. Clara Rebecca Falconi on the other hand, said they have discouraged the selling of junk foods in school canteens and that what should be on display are cooked nutritious foods like vegetables.
Asked whether the DOH-7 has inspected the sanitation of school canteens especially on food handling and preparations, Canoneo replied it is not their task but that of the sanitary local health inspectors under the different local government units.
"What we can do is just plain advocacy for the health and safety of our schoolchildren but the implementation should come from them," according to Canoneo.
Canoneo added that "school sanitation helps in the reduction of diarrhea, a common illness affecting children and acute infection."
The DOH-7 official also lamented that majority of schools have not complied with the adequate number of toilets separate for girls and boys as well as hand washing facilities appropriate for their student population.
"One hand washing facility should cater to 30-50 students while one toilet facility should cater to 25 students separate for male and female," Canoneo disclosed.
Canoneo however did not point a finger to the Dep Ed saying that budget has always been a problem in any government agency. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]