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Exclusive: Government plans for school meals reform revealed

27 September 2005

Kids in England will only be allowed to eat chips twice a week under proposals set out by the School Meals Review Panel.

As a result of the 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.

The recommendations are due to be announced at the Labour Party conference in Brighton tomorrow by education secretary Ruth Kelly, who has based her plans on the review panel's findings.

Kelly will also ban junk food from vending machines and force schools to stock them with healthy alternatives.

The panel, which is formed of nutritionists, caterers and education experts, will release its 100-page-plus report on Monday. It will then go to consultation for three months.

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

The report also stipulated 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 be the foundation of the proposed legislation, the source added that the Government would consider a wider range of expert dietary opinion.

Education will also form 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 more practical cookery lessons.

The report will make specific recommendations to head teachers and parents in an effort to improve child nutrition.

By Tom Bill

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