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Publication - Guidance

Healthy eating in schools: a guide to implementing the nutritional requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008

Published: 17 Sep 2008
Part of:
Education, Farming and rural, Health and social care
ISBN:
9780755958306

Guidance on implementing the nutritional requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008.

92 page PDF

367.7kB

92 page PDF

367.7kB

Contents
Healthy eating in schools: a guide to implementing the nutritional requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008
Section 2: Nutrient standards for school lunches and evening meals in school hostels

92 page PDF

367.7kB

Section 2: Nutrient standards for school lunches and evening meals in school hostels

How have these been calculated?

The statutory nutrient standards for school lunches have been calculated to ensure that the school lunch provides a third of the daily nutritional requirements of primary and secondary school pupils. The nutrient standards represent the amount of energy (calories) and nutrients required to be provided by an average day's school lunch (or evening meal in the case of school hostels maintained by local authorities). This means that caterers must plan their lunch menus to ensure that the food and drinks on offer over a school week average out to meet the nutrient standards.

The nutrient standards for school lunches are shown in Table 1. This table sets out the amount of energy (calories) and minimum levels for key nutrients that must be provided in an average day's school lunch for primary and secondary school pupils. The school lunch menu must also provide no more than the maximum amount of total fat, saturated fat, non-milk extrinsic sugars and sodium.

  • For some nutrients a minimum level is set. These are shown with a green background in Table 1.
  • For other nutrients a maximum level is set. These are shown with a red background in Table 1.

Minimum levels set for:

  • protein
  • total carbohydrate
  • fibre
  • iron
  • calcium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • folate
  • zinc

Maximum levels set for:

  • total fat
  • saturated fat
  • non-milk extrinsic sugars ( NMES)
  • sodium

Table 1: Statutory nutrient standards for school lunches for pupils in primary and secondary schools

Table 1: Statutory nutrient standards for school lunches for pupils in primary and secondary schools

kcals = kilocalories; kJ = kilojoule; NSP = non-starch polysaccharides; g = grams; mg = milligrams; µg = micrograms

Annex 1 provides details on each of these nutrients, including some information on the foods and drinks in which these nutrients are found.

* The fibre value is based on the NSP (Englyst) methodology.

‡ To convert sodium to salt, multiply the sodium value by 2.5.

On what are the nutrient standards based?

The nutrient standards are based on current scientific knowledge on the amount of energy and nutrients needed by different groups of the population as set out in the Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom, and, in the case of salt, in the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition's 5 ( SACN) report on Salt and Health.

What are the key differences between the nutrient standards for school lunches and those set out in Hungry for Success?

The nutrient standards for school lunches differ in a few respects from Hungry for Success. The differences are:

1. A single set of nutrient standards for primary school pupils
2. A different basis to the setting of nutrient standards for secondary school pupils
3. Changes to the minimum levels of micronutrients
4. The addition of a standard for zinc
5. A phased approach to the standard for sodium

1. A single set of nutrient standards for primary schools

Under Hungry for Success there were two sets of nutrient standards for primary school pupils (5 to 6 years and 7 to 10 years). There is now a combined nutrient standard for primary school pupils to facilitate easier menu planning.

It is recognised that there will be a wide range of nutritional needs and appetites within the new age range. Catering staff will need to use their skills, knowledge and judgement to provide appropriately sized portions for individual pupils.

2. A different basis to the setting of nutrient standards for secondary schools

Previously, the nutrient standards for secondary schools had been calculated on the assumption that 70% of those receiving schools meals were aged 11 to 14 years and 30% were aged 15 to 18 years. The nutrient standards for secondary school pupils have changed slightly to be more reflective of the secondary school population age breakdown in Scotland, which is currently around 55% of pupils aged 11 to 14 years and 45% aged 15 to 18 years.

3. Changes to the minimum levels of micronutrients

Previously, the levels of calcium, vitamin C, iron and folate required in an average day's school lunch were boosted in relation to energy and set at 40% of the Reference Nutrient Intake ( RNI).

The mandatory standards for all these micronutrients have now been set in line with the energy standard at 30% of the RNI. This requirement to provide at least 30% of the RNI for these vitamins and minerals in an average day's school lunch is achievable for all schools in Scotland.

It is important to remember that the food and drinks on offer on the school lunch menu over a school week must average out to meet the nutrient standards.

4. The addition of a standard for zinc

This standard has been added due to public health concerns about the low intakes of zinc amongst children. As for the other vitamins and minerals (with the exception of sodium) the standard has been set at 30% of the RNI.

5. A phased approach to the sodium standard

The standard for sodium has been eased slightly compared to the standard set previously under Hungry for Success. It is set at a level of 38% of the SACN target 6 that is still challenging yet achievable for all schools in Scotland.

Schools still need to progressively reduce the amount of sodium in school lunches, and by 2010, the sodium content of an average day's school lunch must not be more than 35% of the SACN target 6 .

Useful information to support the achievement of the nutrient standards for school lunches

  • A guidance manual 7 is available to inform catering providers and local authorities on how to conduct a nutrient analysis of a school menu to determine compliance with the nutrient standards (Table 1). This guide will ensure that a consistent approach is adopted across Scotland to calculate the nutrient content of an average school lunch.
  • A nutritional software specification guide 7 for the analysis of school menus has been developed and is available for local authorities to assist in the purchase of suitable nutritional analysis software programmes.
  • The Food Standards Agency ( FSA) has produced a guide 7 for local authorities across the UK on the nutrient specifications for a wide range of manufactured products (Nutrient Specifications for Manufactured Products). The purpose of this guide is to assist local authorities achieve the nutrient standards through the procurement of
    lower sodium, fat, saturated fat and sugar products.
  • Information on the nutrients shown in Table 1, as well as examples of the appropriate food and drink sources of each these nutrients, are provided in Annex 1.

Contact

Email: Central Enquiries Unit, ceu@gov.scot

Post:
The Scottish Government
St Andrew’s House
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG