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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
School meals 'sea of mediocrity'
Burger and chips
Legislation will allow Wales to clamp down on school junk food
Wales is lagging behind the rest of the UK in raising the quality of school meals, a leading academic has claimed.

Kevin Morgan of Cardiff University said Welsh school food was a "sea of mediocrity" needing "real investment".

Education Minister Jane Davidson disputed that, and said Wales had been unable to change laws on school meals.

She also defended the decision not to close schools in the E.coli outbreak, which has affected 157 people in 42 schools and killed a five-year-old boy.

Prof Morgan, who is researching school meals, has urged the Welsh Assembly Government to endorse recommendations urging new standards on healthier and fresher food in England.

We need to raise the whole standard of Wales to the level of Carmarthenshire
Prof Kevin Morgan
He said while these issues were being discussed in Wales long before they were by TV chef Jamie Oliver, new resources were not being invested in raising food quality, as in Scotland and England.

Prof Morgan told BBC Radio Wales that although Carmarthenshire had been named best school food provider in the UK, it was "an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity".

He went on: "We need to raise the whole standard of Wales to the level of Carmarthenshire."

"We are talking a lot in Wales, doing some worthy initiatives, but we are not putting new money into the school meals service and we are not committing ourselves to new nutrient-based food standards."

Unhealthy food

But Ms Davidson said she "wouldn't absolutely agree" with Prof Morgan that extra money was not going into higher quality school meals, but he was "absolutely right" that Wales had been unable to change legislation.

UK Education Secretary Ruth Kelly announced two weeks ago that unhealthy food would be banned from English schools.

Ms Davidson said she was "absolutely delighted" because that would allow the assembly government to use legislation to "embed new standards which will then be delivered across Wales".

She said Carmarthenshire was a "beacon" which reduced salt and sugar in school meals, buys local produce and increased the amount of fresh meat.

"And that's what we need to have across Wales and we can only do that with legislation. So when we get new opportunities for legislation this assembly government will be delighted to take this agenda forward."




SEE ALSO:
Junk food to be banned in schools
28 Sep 05 |  Education



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