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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February, 2005, 07:32 GMT
New guidelines for school meals
School dinner
Parents are to get more say on the quality of school food
New guidelines on the nutritional value of processed foods such as beef burgers and sausages will be introduced into schools in England from September.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly is to reveal plans to tighten the health requirements for school meals.

Parents will get more say on the quality of the food, she will reveal.

The food industry, schools and nutritionists will also be consulted on what should be on menus, which have been criticised as "unhealthy".

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"It is important that parents have confidence in what goes on in the school kitchen," Ms Kelly told the BBC.

"If there is a feeling among parents that they are not satisfied, they should be able to bring change and the school is supported in terms of bringing in change and making appropriate changes in training staff and offering an appropriate range of menus."

The announcements come amid concerns over rising rates of childhood obesity.

After the consultations, the government says it will set up an independent "school food trust" to maintain standards.

Fruit and veg

The government has previously promised a "tougher minimum standard" for school meals from next year.

The country's biggest union, Unison - which represents many school cooks - welcomed the latest announcements.

Its general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: "We know from our members who work in school kitchens that they are very worried about the poor quality of the food they are made to dish up.

"They know that given the choice children will make a beeline for the chips and burgers and we need to make sure that they are given healthy alternatives."

But the Shadow Education Secretary, Tim Collins, said: "This is beyond parody.

"Labour won't let you choose your child's school, but they want you to join a committee to discuss your child's school dinners."

A survey last year by the children's charity Barnardo's found most pupils in England, Wales and Scotland accepted junk food as the "staple school diet".

Meanwhile, the Soil Association, which promotes organic farming, found "a typical" school meal - such as cheese fritters, roast potatoes, peas and flapjacks - every day provided 40% more salt, 28% more saturated fat and 20% more sugar than recommended.

The results of the consultation with parents, schools, food activists and the food industry are expected to be published in April.


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See what's on the menu for healthier school dinners



SEE ALSO:
School meals 'must be healthier'
28 Oct 04 |  Education
Pupils profit from healthy meals
09 Nov 04 |  Education
'Retro style' for school dinners
03 Nov 04 |  Education


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