A campaign led by Jamie Oliver, TV chef, led to strong new legal standards for school dinners, however, he has now accused the Education Secretary Michael Gove of lowering healthy food standards in schools.
Caterers are explaining that some of the new academy schools in England, are asking for more unhealthy food, as they do not have to abide by the regulations.
The government says it trusts schools to make the best decisions for their pupils and explains that there is no motive to think that academies will not provide balanced, healthy meals to meet the current national standards.
“The bit of work that we did which is law was a good bit of work for any government.
“So to erode it, which is essentially what Mr Gove is doing – his view is we let schools do what they want,” Jamie explained to the BBC news.
Some of you may remember Jamie’s TV campaign which saw him helping and convincing staff to drop fatty foods in their kitchen in favour of healthier options on the menus.
Because of the campaign, the law was tightened for local authority primary schools in 2008 and secondary schools in 2009 in England, so that the school dinners had to meet strict nutritional guidelines.
Fizzy drinks, sugary sweets and salty, fatty crisps soon disappeared from vending machines, which didn’t go down well with some parents, who passed fast food through the railings of their children’s school.
Some kids were also found bringing in biscuits and other snacks and sweets to sell to their fellow pupils.
Academies in England are semi-independent schools and because of this, they do not have to abide by regulations and stick to the strict nutritional guidelines for school dinners or other food sold in the schools.
Currently, there are 1,400 academies in England, and more schools are planning to convert to academy-status.
Now, “unhealthy food” has been requested to be brought back, says the Local Authority Catering Association (LACA), which has 700 members across the UK.
Linda Mitchell, from LACA, said “Our members are telling us that they have been approached by academies to relax the rules and as providers to hundreds of thousands of schools we are concerned.
“They are being asked to put confectionery and other snacks back, especially at mid-morning. It is the return of the sausage roll to schools.”
The biggest request she said, was to put snacks back into the vending machines in the academies.
Linda suggested that academies could be tempted by the high profit margins or have been put under pressure from parents and pupils to bring back the junk food.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education in Westminster, explained that the school food regulations were the “benchmark of high standards”.
“We trust schools to act in the best interest of their pupils – they know the importance of healthy school dinners and the benefits they bring,” the spokesperson said.
Jamie is currently busy working on expanding his restaurants and increasing his chain of restaurants by negotiation and confirming suppliers, hiring staff and getting cheap restaurant insurance for his empire of eateries.