Schools: Processed Food

Department for Education written question – answered at on 19 September 2023.

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Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she is taking steps to prevent ultra-processed foods from being served in schools.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Diets high in calories and saturated fat, salt, and sugar are associated with an increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases.

The standards for school food are set out in the Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014, accessible at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-food-standards-resources-for-schools/school-food-standards-practical-guide. These standards were implemented by the Department to ensure that schools provide pupils with healthy food and drink options, and to make sure that pupils have the energy and nutrition they need throughout the school day.

The standards set out that a pupil’s healthy, balanced diet should consist of:

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • plenty of unrefined starchy foods
  • some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • some milk and dairy foods
  • a small amount of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt.

The standards restrict foods high in fat, salt and sugar, as well as low quality reformed or reconstituted foods. The standards also specify which types of food should be served at school and how often. For example, one or more portions of vegetables or salad should be served as an accompaniment, and one or more portions of fruit must be provided every day. There must also be at least three different fruits and three different vegetables each week. These standards ensure that pupils always have healthy options available for their school lunch.

The Department keeps these standards under review.

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