Jamie Oliver has hit back at media claims suggesting his school dinners crusade had "failed", insisting the campaign was going as planned.
In recent weeks, a number of official reports have shown that the uptake of school meals has dropped dramatically since the interim food-based standards came into force last September, with many media reports blaming Oliver for the decline.
However, speaking exclusively to Caterer, the chef insisted that improvements had been made and that it would take more time for the changes to really take effect.
"Overall, things have definitely improved and instead of hundreds of great examples of schools offering healthy food to children, there are now thousands," Oliver said. "It's simply not true that the school dinners campaign has failed. It was never going to be easy but as far as I'm concerned everything is going as planned - and that includes the problems. If things were looking really bad, I'd be worried. I'm not."
Oliver accepted that the high-profile nature of his campaign for healthier school meals meant he would face criticism. "I will always be connected to school dinners and at times people will point the finger at me," he said.
The chef revealed that he was planning to make another TV documentary to show where things had gone wrong and what needed to be improved.
"The biggest problem has been the change of department heads and it has been incredibly frustrating to have to work with so many different politicians," Oliver said. "First it was Charles Clarke, then Ruth Kelly, then Alan Johnson [and now Ed Balls]. If you change the boss all the time then of course things are going to get mucked around."
By Kerstin Kühn
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Published by: The Caterer