Jamie Oliver warns Michael Gove on academy school meals

TV chef Jamie Oliver Jamie Oliver has campaigned for healthier school meals

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TV chef Jamie Oliver has said Education Secretary Michael Gove is endangering pupils' nutrition by not controlling what food academy schools provide.

He said he was "totally mystified" that academies were allowed to determine what food should be on offer, while state schools follow strict rules.

"The public health of five million children should not be left to luck or chance," he told the Observer.

The government says it trusts schools to act in their pupils' best interests.

A campaign by the chef led to tough new legal standards on school meals in England.

Oliver told the newspaper: "This mantra that we are not going to tell (academy) schools what to do just isn't good enough in the midst of the biggest obesity epidemic ever."

'Playing with fire'

Referring to Mr Gove, who enabled more schools in England to become academies through the Academies Bill in 2010, Oliver said: "I have got nothing against him personally. But the health of millions of children could be affected by this one man.

"When there is a national obesity crisis unfolding around us, I honestly think he is playing with fire."

Academies are semi-independent schools so do not have to abide by regulations introduced in 2008 which set out strict nutritional guidelines for school food.

There are currently 1,776 academies in England and more schools plan on converting to academy-status.

The chef told the newspaper the national standards introduced should apply to all schools and said academy head teachers should be given guidance on the type of food they should be serving.

He also accused academies of making money from vending machines selling sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks.

Under the national rules, which are applied to other state schools, vending machines can only sell healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts and bottles of water.

Reconstituted turkey

Mr Gove wrote to Jamie Oliver about the chef's concerns on school meals at academies last August.

He wrote: "We have no reason to believe that academies will not provide healthy, balanced meals that meet the current nutritional standards.

"As part of the broader freedoms available to academies, I trust the professionals to act in the best interests of their pupils."

He said he had asked the School Food Trust to carry out a survey of food standards in new academies last autumn.

A government spokesman said: "We trust schools to act in the best interests of their pupils. There's been a lasting culture change in attitudes since Jamie's School Dinners.

"Heads know that failing to invest in good, nutritious food is a false economy and parents won't tolerate reconstituted turkey being put back on the menu.

"The tough nutrition standards remain in place in maintained schools and set a clear benchmark for the rest.

"Catering is outstanding in many longest-established academies - we see no reason that they will all not be serving high quality food to pupils that meet the standards."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 252.


    2015. And with no seroius opposition* we can enjoy another 5 years of tory rule.

    *Labour? With Ed Millipede in charge hahaha!

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.


    So a statement in the guardian provides a psudeo-intellect the ability to talk rubbish, on a biased web site. If the story is nothing unusual why did you read it, why, oh why did you bother? Did your fingers & eyes feel as forgotten as your commen sense doesl!

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    If Academies are found to be selling crisps & fizzy drinks, those Professionals in whom Mr Gove puts his faith for ensuring the health of children whilst in their care, should be publicly held to account to justify their conscious decision not to guide children down the proper path.What parents do at home is a matter, over which schools have no control, but can, nevertheless, lead by an example

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    235. TheBladesman
    "The government are now allowing schools to profit from feeding junk food to kids? Yes those evil tories want our children to die early and make money out of it - its ridiculous. Are academy headteachers in on this plan too?"

    Touching that you can credit them with such a long term view.

    When's the next election?

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    So whats wrong with Twizzlers and chips and fizzy pop, Fat kids may turn into Fat Cats................. just a small jape there, So why don't Gove make every school privet, turn them into Etons and Harrow's, its simple to do.......... take Tax payers money............. oops forgot, if your kids are able to go to these schools YOU CAN AFFORD NOT TO PAY TAX AT ALL, OFF SHORE AND ALL THAT WHAT WHAT

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    A concerned chef or one just wanting to keep himself in the limelight. A few years ago he was talking the same and as proved his sauces had the highest salt content, one single serving had as much salt as 10 bags of crisps. We do not need a jumped up chef telling us what we need to eat. Be quiet Oliver and lets get the kids outside to play.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    #198 Pervasive Blue Mist

    If you can find a single politician who isn't idelogically [sic] obsessed then I would be amazed,
    Moderate is to

    Obsessive as

    Ken Clarke is to

    Gove, Lansley ,Fox & Werrity Ltd, or The Atlantic Bridge to give the former "charity" it's proper name.

    Does that help a bit?

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    Gove will soon have McD's vending machines in schools if the price is right in the same way the company are major sponsors for the Olympics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    I think you'll find Oliver's kids are at private school.
    Yes, what's your point? JO 's children go to to a private school, where they eat healthy and he campaigns for children who do not go to a ps to be allowed a healthy lunch as well. Gove children if he has any probably go to a ps byt he doesn't give an iota about what acadamies serve their pupils. Lazy AND hypocritical.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Jamie Oliver should stick to sloshing on the olive oil and making his next million. Obesity in children never really occurred when basic British food was the only thing available to eat and it is celebrity chefs continually on our screens taking about food, together with the influx of foreign fast foods (curry, burgers, kebabs, chinese etc) that has caused the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    I hardly have a say what school my children go to. It's all down to catchment area etc. They go to schools that were not necessarily my 1st choice. They are very smart and very healthy and do do exceptionally well. They actually do more for their schools than their schools do for them. The least I can expect in return is a decent lunch, if only not to undo all the good work I do at home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    You've answered the question...

    Instead of constructively stating and enforcing important issues & human rights, we complaint about nonsense, to nonsense, then accept nonsense as an outcome. Does this make you feel better....

    What good will nutrients do you when your brain is underdeveloped in the first place..

    Narcissistism at it finest, I salute you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    So an article in the Guardian critcises government policy. Nothing unusual about that and it hardly counts as a news story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    thats all we need, more Jamie Oliver whittering on telling us what to do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Feed as many alfalfa sprouts to a chav as you like. It's still a chav.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    222. Rachel
    "I feel strongly that schools are a place where children eat with their peers and learn about life beyond the home. It is much better if they have a healthy experience which supports what we as parents are trying to achieve. Schools condoning poor food choices does not set a good example."

    This is a fantastic, important comment, I hope it doesn't get lost in the mix.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    the biggest problem is that modern day kids can have what they want, they dont want healthy,though i do not agree with junk food,fact is if they dont want what school dishes up, they have the choice on what they eat at school as schools cannot force them to eat anything they just dont eat it, or they go to the chippy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    The government are now allowing schools to profit from feeding junk food to kids? Yes those evil tories want our children to die early and make money out of it - its ridiculous. Are academy headteachers in on this plan too?

    Oh dear, another day, another round of inane politician/government bashing - how tedious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    'Clearly the Tories aren't interested in the obesity epidemic'

    Were Labour ? They had a few salad dodgers in their ranks didn't they ?

    You should replace your red tinted specs with clear ones !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    We have had much of the school curriculum directed by LEAs for generations.How come they failed to get the message of healthy eating inculcated into society in all that time? That is a huge failure of the state system, under governments of the Left,Right,and Centre.


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