UK junk food ban sends ripples through industry

By Leah Vyse

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Meal

New mandatory minimum standards for UK school food means that food
makers will have to drastically rethink their marketing strategies.

Following shocking revelations over the quality of food served in schools throughout England along with the growing ill health of the younger generation, junk food will be banned and new stringent nutritional standards will come into force by autumn 2006.

This could have a significant impact on the snack food market, which relies heavily on the younger market.

The new measures follow the publication of the "Turning the Tables: Transforming School Food" report by the independent school meals review panel, which urged the government to ban all low quality foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

It also recommended that reformed or reconstituted foods made from 'meat slurry' in schools should be outlawed.

"All school food should be good. School meals should be an important source of nutrition for children,"​ said Chair of the Schools Meal Review Panel, Suzi Leather.

"By redressing the current imbalance in children's diets, schools can contribute towards a reduction in childhood obesity and tooth decay and, in the longer term, reduce the likelihood of our children suffering from chronic disease later in life."

Certainly, something has to be done about the UK's burgeoning obesity crisis. The Caroline Walker Trust, which advises the UK government on school meal standards, says the number of obese school-age children has doubled since 1992.

And figures from the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) show the number of overweight children in Europe is rising by 400,000 a year.

Other measures include the banning of chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks from vending machines in schools, a measure that has been partially implemented in the US and fully implemented in France. The only drinks available will be water, milk, pure fruit juices, yogurt and milk drinks with less than 10 per cent added sugar.

The report also outlines several proposed measures to combat the consumption of unhealthy food in schools, one of which is to control all food consumed in school. This could involve a total ban on pupils leaving school at lunch times along with advising parents what to put in their child's packed lunch.

Similar steps have been taken in the US to try and control the consumption of unhealthy food in schools. In certain states parents have been banned from sending snacks in for their child's classmates, while they are still allowed to provide them for their own child.

However, treats haven not been completely banned as the new regulation allows the school itself to provide such snacks at up to nine school events each year.

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