School food is automatically healthy is a misnomer that we would all like to be true (and certainly is in some cases), but often isn’t.
There are no longer any nutritional guidelines for schools, they were replaced in January 2015 by wider “food standards”, which say things like “No more than two portions a week of food that has been deep-fried, batter-coated or breadcrumb-coated”
To be clear, the new standards do not put any limits on salt, sugar or fat levels.
So in themselves these food standards don’t automatically mean the meals are healthy. There is nothing to stop a caterer bringing back turkey twizzlers, or having hamburgers, pizzas and fish and chips on the menu.
Even if these kind of foods were banned under the standards, over 4000 schools are exempt from the standards. Which completely undermines the argument, the majority of school children attend these schools which can ignore the rules. It’s not unusual to see vending machines in these academies, many keep them because they bring in up to £20,000 pa in profit.
No one can know if meals are healthy or not in unregulated schools.
What’s worse, we are still faced by the fact that no one monitors the standards even where they apply, no one looks to see if the food provided meet the quality required of the government set school food standards. We continue to pour millions of pounds from the public purse into school food provision yet there is still no government body that holds providers to account or monitors quality of the food.
Much is being made of evidence from the pilots where children ate less crisps and had fewer sugary drinks, what they didn’t say was the same research found a 13%% increase in the amount of chips being eaten and a 19% decrease in fresh fruit consumption. Convenient and selective use of evidence by uifsm supporters as per usual!
This sums up the findings from the pilot “There was no evidence that the FSM pilot led to significant health benefits during the two year pilot period. For example, there was no evidence of any change in children’s Body Mass Index”
Whilst the best school meals are undoubtedly healthy, without regulation and monitoring, it is little more than wishful thinking to sugest they all are.
Who knows? Who cares? Not government it would seem