Quinn must tackle availability of junk food in schools, says Fitzgerald

Frances Fitzgerald

The ready availability of junk food in schools needs to be probed by the Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, a Cabinet colleague has insisted.

Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald expressed concern at reports that a third of secondary schools are selling fizzy drinks and sweets in light of the country’s obesity problems.

“I would encourage the Minister for Education to examine this and let’s get a clear picture of why this is the case given our obesity situation,” she said.

Ms Fitzgerald stressed that it was not a matter of “banning” junk foods, but giving students the choice of healthy alternatives when on school premises.

“Clearly some schools have entered into contracts with various firms and so the contents of these machines are what they are,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

“But obviously I would be saying to schools that we should be of moving in the direction of healthy food.”

“I don’t think it’s a question of banning but more of moving in that direction of healthy food.”

Ms Fitzgerald also commented on the spread of the controversial internet drinking craze neknomination to Britain, where it has been linked to the death of a 29-year-old man in Wales.

“It’s very clear that this is a game that people might have thought when it started out that it was innocent but actually has potentially lethal consequences,” said Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Young people have to be alert to the dangers of these social crazes really.”

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