The Scottish government is to consult on expert recommendations to make school meals in Scotland healthier.
While rules already apply to the nutritional content of school meals in Scotland, a recent review by health, nutrition and education experts has led to new proposals and views are now being sought on recommendations to further reduce sugar and other measures to promote healthy choices. They include: Increasing access to fresh fruit and vegetables with a minimum of two portions of veg and a portion of fruit to be offered as part of a school lunch; introducing lower sugar limits, for example for foods such as breakfast cereal and yoghurts; reducing how often sweetened and baked goods are available in primary schools; no longer permitting fruit juice and smoothies to be offered in primary and secondary schools; introducing a new regulation for red meat which specifies, for the first time, how much of a child’s weekly intake should be high-quality produce and limits the amount of processed meat.
“More than 360,000 meals are dished up in Scottish schools every day, setting children and young people up for their lessons and – through learning about healthy habits – for life,” said deputy first minister John Swinney. “While our internationally acclaimed nutritional standards are already very high, we want to go further to promote healthy, high quality food and drink and help tackle childhood obesity.
“The proposals we are putting forward are based on the latest scientific and expert advice, as well as the views of local authorities, schools and catering staff. I urge everyone with an interest in school food to have their say.”
The consultation on School Food Regulations can be viewed at consult.gov.scot/support-and-wellbeing/food-and-drink-in-schools. It is a result of a report by the Technical Working Group of nutrition requirements regulations, made up of representatives from NHS Health Scotland, Education Scotland and Food Standards Scotland. The Scottish government has accepted all of the recommendations.
Among the recommendations is a ban on sugary breakfast cereals in schools, many of which now run breakfast clubs. This proposal has been welcomed by Weetabix, one of the low-sugar cereals that will likely benefit from increased consumption.
The company said: “At Weetabix, we’re really proud to help school children to get a good start to the day. Offering families a nutritious breakfast is top of our agenda. In fact, it’s the reason Weetabix was created more than 85 years ago – and why we’re still the nation’s favourite cereal today.
“Weetabix Original, as well as Weetabix Protein and Ready brek have all green traffic lights on pack to make it easy for schools to make a healthy choice.”