The managing director and founder of foodservice company Cucina Restaurants has called for the government's school food standards to be linked to Ofsted inspections.
Steve Quinn, of secondary school caterer Cucina, praised the government's new school food standards, which were announced last week to come into effect in 2015, but advised that they should be linked to a "rigorous system of accountability" and monitored by Ofsted.
This would mean that meal uptake and nutritional standards would become a top priority.
Meal uptake should particularly be considered a factor in inspections, he said, because any nutritional programme would only work if students actually ate the meals on offer.
"Food is only nutritious if it is actually eaten. A school may produce the healthiest school meals in the country, but if nobody takes them up, they are not healthy," he said."If food service were to be integrated into the school inspection agenda, it would straightaway become a high priority for all schools."
He also advised that kitchens doing especially well could be used as examples to show inspectors and other schools what the highest standards look like. This would ensure "progress becomes achievable", he said.
Cucina Restaurants operates over 40 companies in UK secondary schools, with the most recent deals including Goff's School in Cheshunt, Haydon School in Middlesex, Sidcup Grammar, and St Catherine's Catholic College in Kent.
Quinn himself has worked in catering at hotel groups such as Thistle and Hilton, and foodservice firms including Sodexo and Compass UK.