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New rules for healthy school dinners

1.1.2015 BBC News

New rules for healthy school dinners

New rules for school meals in England come into force in the new term, restricting how often fried food can be served and promoting drinking water…..

The changes to the standards

This section interprets the changes to the school food standards and what they mean for school food.

New school food standards were announced on 17th June 2014. From 1st January 2015, all local authority maintained schools, academies and free schools set up before 2010 and created from June 2014 onwards must meet these new standards for school food.

The School Food Standards – a history
The school food standards were first launched back in September 2007 with aims to:

  • ensure that food provided was healthy, balanced and nutritious
  • provide pupils with an appropriate amount of the energy and nutrients they needed during the school day
  • help develop healthy eating habits.

Initially the standards were food based standards then nutrient based standards were introduced for school lunches in September 2008 for primary schools and September 2009 for secondary.

In July 2013, an independent review (School Food Plan) found the current school food standards were considered difficult to understand and use, particularly the nutritional analysis of recipes and menus. The School Food Plan recommended government create a clearer set of food-based standards, accompanied by practical guidance, that:

  • provided caterers with a framework on which to build interesting, creative and nutritionally-balanced menus; and
  • was less burdensome and operationally cheaper to implement than the current nutrient-based standards

The new school food standards
Following on from the recommendations of the School Food Plan, the government has launched new school food standards. The main difference is that they are food-based only, which means schools and their caterers will no longer have to nutritionally analyse their recipes and menus.

The standards are based on the following food groups:

  • Starchy foods
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • Milk and dairy
  • Foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt
  • Plus, healthier drinks

The general principle of the new standards emphasizes the importance of providing a wide range of foods across the week. Variety is key – whether it is different fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses or types of meat and fish. Offering a wider range of different foods provides a better balance of nutrients.

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