New standards are to be introduced for school meals to ensure children eat well, the government has announced.
Under the new guidelines, there will be restrictions on the amount of fried food and sugary drinks, and it will be easier for school cooks to prepare meals using healthy food, with fruit and vegetables as a requirement.
Youngsters will have one or more portions of vegetables or salad as an accompaniment every day, with at least three different fruits and three different vegetables each week.
Deep-fried, batter-coated, or breadcrumb-coated food will be limited to no more than two portions a week, with the same restrictions applying to portions of food which include pastry.
Wholegrain foods are to be used in place of carbohydrates, while water is to be made the drink of choice. Fruit juice is to be limited to 150mls and there is to be a five per cent restriction on the amount of added sugars or honey in other drinks.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: "The revised school food standards will allow schools to be more creative in their menus. They are easier for schools to understand and crucially they will continue to restrict unhealthy foods to ensure our children eat well."
Education secretary Michael Gove commented: "There has been a great deal of progress in providing healthy school meals in recent years and these new standards will help deliver further improvements."
Henry Dimbleby, co-author with John Vincent of The School Food Plan, said many cooks had felt restricted by the previous standards, even though they helped to improve school meals.
Trials have revealed the new standards are particularly popular among school cooks, 90 per cent of whom believe they are easier to implement than the previous standards.
The revised regulations come into effect on January 1st 2015. They will be mandatory in all maintained schools, academies that opened prior to 2010 and academies and free schools entering into a funding agreement from June 2014.
Posted by Alan Douglas