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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
What schools should serve
fruit
The healthy option - but will children choose it?
The government guidelines on school meals divide foods into the following five groups:

A: Fruit and vegetables

These include fruit and vegetables in all forms (whether fresh, frozen, canned, dried or in the form of juice).

B: Starchy foods

These include bread, chapatis, pasta, noodles, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, millet and cornmeal.

C: Meat, fish and other non-dairy sources of protein

These include meat and fish in all forms (whether fresh, frozen, canned or dried), including meat or fish products, eggs, nuts, pulses and beans, other than green beans.

D: Milk and dairy foods

These include milk, cheese, yoghurt, (including frozen yoghurt and drinking yoghurt), fromage frais, milkshakes and custard, but not butter or cream.

E: Foods containing fat and foods containing sugar

These include margarine, butter, other spreading fats, cooking oils and fats, oil based salad dressings, mayonnaise, salad cream, cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, cakes, puddings, ice cream, rich sauces, gravies, jam, sugary soft drinks, sweets, sugar and jelly, but not any foods falling within any other group.

There are separate guidelines for each stage of a pupil's schooling. They are:

Nursery schools

Each day, food from each of the food groups A, B, C and D must be available

Primary schools

Each day, one option must be available from each of the food groups A, B, C and D, AND

  • fruit and a vegetable must be available every day
  • fruit-based desserts must be available twice a week
  • food from the starch group which is cooked in fat or oil must not be on offer on more than three days a week
  • red meat must be available at least twice a week and fish at least once a week

Secondary schools

Each day, two options must be available from each of the food groups A, B, C and D, AND

  • a fruit and a vegetable must be available every day
  • where a food from the starch group is cooked in fat or oil, an alternative starchy food not cooked in this way must also be available
  • red meat must be available at least three times a week, and fish at least twice a week

Special schools

Special schools will be allowed to comply with either primary or secondary school guidelines

Fats and sugar

The government has pointed out that the guidelines do not specify that food from group E, the fats and sugar group, should be available.

It says these types of foods will appear in other food groups.

It is not proposing to restrict the amount of fatty and sugary foods schools offer, as it says consultation on the guidelines suggested this would be "very difficult to achieve and time-consuming".

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