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MP seeks power to enforce nutritional standards in schools

02 March 2005 by
MP seeks power to enforce nutritional standards in schools

Schoolchildren's whereabouts may be monitored at break times, vending machines regulated and nutritional information displayed on school meals - if new proposals by a south London MP get the go-ahead.

The Labour MP for Croydon Central, Geraint Davies, presented a private member's bill to Parliament last week which will have its second reading on 25 February.

Davies said the bill aimed to ensure that schools were required to provide only healthy choices, "as giving children the choice between chips and salad is like giving them the choice between learning and loafing about at school".

The bill will argue that unhealthy foods should not be sold from school vending machines, as they have been linked to a major increase in children's calorific intake. It will add that restricting pupils' whereabouts during school hours would allow control over the supply of food and prevent children buying fast food at lunchtime.

Davies also pointed out that if Ofsted were to inspect nutritional standards within schools, then local authorities would be required to ensure a certain level was reached and intervene if standards were not being met.

"The current situation where children can consume large quantities of fat, salt and sugar in processed foods with minimal nutritional value should be replaced by an environment in which healthy food is the norm, to encourage lifelong habits of healthy eating," said Davies.

Neil Porter, national chairman of the Local Authority Caterers Association, largely welcomed the proposals. "We fully support any acknowledgement the Government gives to making the standards mandatory in all schools," he said.

"We also welcome independent monitoring from Ofsted, but would insist on any inspectors being qualified in what they are monitoring."

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