Nutrition takes the lead in a plan to improve school lunches

February 10, 2005, as reported by School meals in England will be subject to stricter health regulations beginning in September according to an announcement made by education and skills secretary Ruth Kelly.

The initial round of improvement will focus on processed food, including reductions to the fat, salt and sugar content of foods such as beef burgers, sausages and cakes. Tougher standards for school meals will follow in 2006.

Secretary Kelly challenged parents to take the lead along with those of the food industry, caterers, nutritionist and food interest groups in realizing improvements in childhood nutrition.

Thursday’s announcements were based on the Public Health White Paper, published in November 2004, which set out commitments to introduce a new vocational qualification for school caterers to help them promote healthy food; offer more help for schools and local education authorities in drawing up catering contracts to source healthy school meals’ services, and healthy food in vending machines, tuck shops, or breakfast clubs; make healthy eating part of the Ofsted school inspection process; and introduce tougher minimum standards for school meals, in which the use of nutrient-based standards will be strongly considered.

"Children's health must come first. We want to make sure that children have access to healthy diets both in and out of school. Our Public Health White Paper takes action to tackle childhood obesity not only through providing healthier food during the school day but by giving people the information and support they need to make healthy choices - for themselves and their children," said John Reid secretary of state for health.