FDF 'regrets' new English nutrition standards

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

New minimum nutrition standards for English school food, designed
to ensure healthier eating, has resulted in the banning of certain
products high in salt, fat and sugar.

This has disappointed some sections of the food industry.

"FDF regrets that the standards ban certain foods from being vended in schools,"​ said FDF director general Melanie Leech.

"Positive actions are always more effective than prescription.

"The UK food and drink manufacturing industry fully supports the governments drive to improve the standards of school meals, and played a constructive part in the school food consultation process."

The department for education and skills however believes that the standards will improve the quality of food in schools and "undo decades of neglect in school meals provision"​.

"They are the result of over a years work and have been widely consulted with professional associations, dietitians, health charities, and food and drink organisations,"​ it said in a statement last week.

In line with the recommendations of the School Meals Review Panel, from this September food-based standards will ensure that school lunches are free from low quality meat products, fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate or other confectionery.

In addition, high quality meat, poultry or oily fish will be made available on a regular basis while pupils will be served a minimum of two portions of fruit and vegetables with every meal.

Any deep-fried items will be restricted to no more than two portions in a week. Schools will also be made to end the sale of junk food in vending machines and tuck shops.

"These new standards will start to undo decades of neglect and ensure that healthy eating is the norm in every school,"​ said education secretary Alan Johnson.

"The health of our young people is not an area for compromise. Providing pupils with a healthy balanced meal that will give them the energy, vitamins and minerals they need to learn and play is essential, but we will go further, helping schools to teach every pupil skills in diet, nutrition, practical food preparation and cooking to ensure they make the right choices throughout life."

School food nutrition is a hot topic in the UK. In addition to increasing school funding by 50 per cent since 1997, the government claims to be investing £ 220 million to help schools and local education authorities invest in school meals, training and increased hours for cooks, and kitchen equipment.

Some 60 million has already been invested, with a further £ 160m over the following two years.

In addition, the Food Standards Agencys voluntary target nutrient specifications set maximum levels for total fat, saturated fat, sodium/salt and sugar in a range of manufactured foods used in school meals, including bread, poultry products, soups, sausages and burgers. In addition, target minimum values for protein have been set for certain products to help ensure an adequate protein intake when pupils select vegetarian options.

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