The Government has published a new voluntary code of practice for all drinks served in schools and urged manufactures to sign up to it.
Drinks containing added colours and artificial sweeteners are now off the menu in the latest draft, but tea and coffee can still be served, despite some media reports to the contrary.
The Government is not allowed, under European Union regulations, to implement a mandatory ban on drinks with sweeteners and artificial colourings outright, as they are legal ingredients.
The voluntary code also has no bearing on packed lunches where children can, in effect, still bring in what food and drink they wish - an ongoing source of complaint for caterers tasked with improving standards.
In a statement, the School Food Trust, the body set up to implement school meals reform, said: "If we are to ensure that school children are getting access to a nutritionally balanced diet it is vital that drinks as well as food, comply with strict guidelines.
"The publication of the voluntary code of practice is designed to ensure that children are consuming drinks that support good nutrition and that are free from unnecessary additives and sweeteners."
Yesterday, the Scottish Government announced it would be introducing free school meals for primary school children after a successful trial.
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By Chris Druce
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