School meals panel wants to limit fried food for kids

29 September 2005
School meals panel wants to limit fried food for kids

Kids in England will not be allowed to eat chips more than twice a week under proposals set out by the School Meals Review Panel.

As a result of planned legislation, caterers will be prevented from serving more than two portions of fried food over a five-day period.
According to a source close to the Government, chocolate and crisps will also be banned from school canteens as kitchens are prevented from selling high-fat or high-salt snacks over the counter.

As Caterer went to press, details of the Government's plans, based on the review panel's findings, were still emerging. Education Secretary Ruth Kelly was expected to announce the details in her speech to the Labour Party conference in Brighton yesterday.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) confirmed that Kelly would ban junk food from vending machines and force schools to stock them with healthy alternatives such as water, milk and fruit juice.

The panel, which is formed of nutritionists, caterers and education experts, will release its report on Monday.

The report will go out for consultation for three months. Legislation to introduce the new nutritional standards will then be brought before parliament.

"In broad terms it sets targets, creates standards and makes recommendations," the source said.

The report will also stipulate that processed food, such as sausages and veggie burgers, will have to meet nutritional standards set by the Food Standards Agency.

While the Caroline Walker Trust nutritional guidelines will form the foundation for the proposed legislation, the source added that the Government would take a wider range of expert dietary opinion on board.

The DfES spokesman added that Kelly was likely to accept the panel's recommendations on minimum nutritional standards.

Education will also be an important plank in the new measures. Although there will be no change to the national curriculum, schools will be encouraged to take a whole-school approach to food. The Government will push for children to learn about the origins of food and take part in practical cookery lessons.

The report will make specific recommendations to head teachers and parents in an attempt to find an all-round solution to poor nutrition.

By Tom Bill

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