NEW DELHI: Officials in the Union health ministry will soon have to hold their craving for biscuits and other ‘unhealthy’ snacks.
According to a recent circular, health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has ordered a complete ban on unhealthy snacks such as biscuits in the ministry.
The new health minister, a doctor himself, has ordered that only healthy snacks will be served during meetings.
The new food menu includes dates, almonds, walnuts, lahiya chana (mix of roasted puffed rice and roasted grams) and bhuna chana (roasted grams).
“Hon’ble HFM has desired that only healthy snacks are to be served in official meetings and biscuits are to be avoided,” said the circular shared with all officials in the ministry, ranging from the secretary to section officers.
The circular, dated June 19 and issued by Deputy Secretary Ziley Singh Vical, reiterated that a previous administrative order on not using plastic water bottles in meetings will be followed in “letter and spirit.”
It said departmental canteens have been advised not to stock biscuits and only healthy snacks are to be served in official meetings.
However, the order has created a flutter within the ministry with some officials wondering whether the minister is right in trying to enforce food habits on his officers.
“Things like what one should eat are best left to the individual to decide,” said one official, who felt the minister’s preference could have been communicated as an advisory rather than an order.
Vardhan is a qualified ENT surgeon and is known for advocating lifestyle changes. In his earlier stint as health minister, he had sought to remove fast food from schools.
The minister could not be contacted for comments as he is currently in Japan to attend the G20 session for health ministers.