Fried food twice per week limit in school meals


Parents and children tell the BBC what they think of the new rules

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School meals in England will have to include at least one portion of vegetables a day - and no more than two portions of fried food each week.

Ministers have announced regulations for school food in state schools, which will apply from January 2015.

The regulations promote drinking water and limit fruit juice servings to 150ml (just over a quarter of a pint).

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the rules would "continue to restrict unhealthy foods".

Schools will also have to provide a choice of fruit and vegetables as part of the new rules.

Thai curry New rules promote variety

The school food plan, designed to promote healthy eating, will be mandatory for local authority schools, new free schools and schools that convert to academy status.

Pastry limit

They will replace regulations introduced in the wake of TV chef Jamie Oliver's campaign to improve the standard of school food.

The Department for Education said the previous rules had done "much to improve school food" but "were complicated and expensive to enforce".

The revised regulations are intended to allow school cooks more "flexibility".

The school meal requirements include:

Start Quote

The revised school food standards will allow schools to be more creative in their menus.”

End Quote Nick Clegg Deputy prime minister
  • one or more portions of vegetables or salad as an accompaniment every day
  • at least three different fruits and three different vegetables each week
  • an emphasis on wholegrain foods in place of refined carbohydrates
  • an emphasis on making water the drink of choice
  • limiting fruit juice portions to quarter pints (150ml)
  • restricting the amount of added sugars or honey in other drinks to 5%
  • no more than two portions a week of food that has been deep-fried, batter-coated or breadcrumb-coated
  • no more than two portions of food that include pastry each week
  • a portion of milk (lower fat and lactose reduced) to be made available once a day.
A healthy school lunch Children are being encouraged to eat more healthily at lunch times

Dietician Ursula Philpot said 57% of pupils currently had packed lunches and that more should be done to increase the number of those eating school food.

She told BBC Breakfast: "We have to rebrand school meals and make them something that children want to do.

"That can only be done by training the chefs, by training the catering staff, by making the school environment - where children eat - better."


Current standards:

  • two deep-fried food items and three fried starchy items a week
  • cake and biscuits only at lunchtime
  • one portion of fruit and one of vegetables a day
  • one portion of protein from meat. fish, and other non-dairy sources
  • red meat: twice a week in primary schools, three times a day in secondary schools
  • processed meat such as burgers, sausage rolls, meat pies once a fortnight
  • low fat milk and lactose-reduced milk available daily
  • sugar and honey contents of hot drinks limited to 5%

Restaurateur Henry Dimbleby told the programme the aim was to "protect children from the worst excesses of modern food that's available in society" and encourage them to try healthier foods.

Children eating roast dinners The existing plan includes one portion of protein and one of fruit and vegetables a day

The restaurateur, a member of the expert panel behind the healthy eating plan, said: "The best cooks are not just cooks, they engage, they're out in the school canteen, persuading children who haven't tried things to try them.

"It's about selling, it's about encouraging these children to eat well, setting a standard early in life."

'Clear and concise'

Jamie Oliver welcomed the guidance, saying: "For me, these mandatory minimum standards are so important if we're going to truly protect the next generation."

Chicken tikka Rules advise daily protein

Tuesday's menu at Kingsbridge Community College, Devon

  • tandoori chicken breast with white rice and homemade Indian dips
  • mushroom risotto with peas
  • "cheaper" pot meal - chicken tikka
  • individual pavlovas and chocolate fudge cake
  • pasta bar with sauces, sicilian, bolognaise and pomodoro
  • salad bar with homemade quiches
  • sandwiches, wraps, baps with salad filling included
  • free fruit given away with each meal - watermelon most popular option

Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at Oxford University, said: "We know that children are continuing to eat too much saturated fat, sugar and salt.

"It is vital that the food children are offered in schools is nutritious and helps them to learn about the basics of a healthy diet."

Some parents 'unhappy'

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "We now have a clear and concise set of food standards, which are easier for cooks to follow and less expensive to enforce. Crucially we have achieved this without any compromise on quality or nutrition."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "The revised school food standards will allow schools to be more creative in their menus. They are easier for schools to understand and crucially they will continue to restrict unhealthy foods to ensure our children eat well."

Christine Blower, leader of the National Union of Teachers, said it was a "missed opportunity" because it would not be mandatory for all schools.

The regulations will be voluntary for schools that became academies between 2010 and 2014.

"Parents of children in these schools will rightly be unhappy that the government is failing to deliver the same guarantee of minimum nutritional food standards for all schools," she said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    Funny old world. When I was a lad we had pies and fish and chips as well as veg and puddings with custard. It all ran like clockwork. Then do gooders interfered and it all went to pot. No one was fat cause we got excercise running about, we never stopped at home and at school, then came computers and over protective parents. Now people make a fortune "advising" how it should be done. Progress!

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Used be kids seemed able to eat anything. We had fish and chips of a Friday, bread and dripping mid week, jam doughnut and cider on a Saturday night. Course, no central heating and walked (ran most, if we'd dawdled) the mile or so to school (bus fare went on penny Devon toffy). Now they're ferried door to door - so as they don't come to harm - irony or what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    Limiting fried food in school will not do a blind bit of good if children eat poorly and take little exercise outside school.

    This is an empty gesture, done only so that the powers-that-be can say “Look we are doing something” when in fact it will have little effect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Good diet starts in the home. That is why though welcomed this approaches things from the wrong end. Put back home economics into schools so people can actually cook for themselves! It is not rocket science.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    They can make the meals super-healthy and that would be fabulous.... for some.

    We had to start sending a pack lunch for our son because he simply refused to eat ANY of the school meals, day after day after day. He would only eat the dessert.

    Meals must be healthy, but kids must want to eat them too, otherwise it will be a complete waste of time and resources and kids would still go hungry.


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