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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 3: Food standards for school lunches and evening meals in school hostels

92 page PDF

367.7kB

Section 3: Food standards for school lunches and evening meals in school hostels

Table 2: Food standards for school lunches

At a Glance - Food Standards for School Lunches

Details

1. Fruit and vegetables

A choice of at least two types of vegetables and two types of fruit (not including fruit juice) must be provided every day as part of the school lunch.

See p 20

2. Oily fish

Oily fish must be provided at least once every three weeks.

See p 25

3. Variety of extra bread

Additional bread must be provided every day as a meal accompaniment, with a variety of bread, which must include brown or wholemeal, being provided over the week.

See p 27

4. Oils and spreads

Only oils and spreads high in polyunsaturated and/or monounsaturated fats can be used in food preparation.*

See p 29

These foods are restricted on your lunch menus

5. Deep-fried foods

Menus must not contain more than three deep-fried items in a single week (including chips). This includes products which are deep-fried in the manufacturing process.

Chips, if served, must be served as part of a meal.

See p 31

6. Table salt and other condiments

Additional salt cannot be provided.

Condiments (if provided) must be dispensed in no more than 10ml portions.

See p 33

These foods are not allowed on your lunch menus

7. Confectionery

No confectionery can be provided.

See p 35

8. Savoury snacks

No savoury snacks can be provided except savoury crackers, oatcakes or breadsticks.

See p 37

Fruit and Vegetables

Standard 1

A choice of at least two types of vegetables and two types of fruit (not including fruit juice) must be provided every day as part of the school lunch.

Why is this standard important?

It is desirable to increase fruit and vegetable intake because:

  • Fruit and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fibre and other naturally occurring beneficial components. Current recommendations are to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day as part of a healthy balanced diet.
  • Very few Scottish children and young people eat the recommended amount of five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day 8 .
  • Low consumption of fruit and vegetables remains one of the most concerning features of the Scottish diet.

What vegetables are included?

All fresh, frozen and canned vegetables are included whether offered as a salad, cooked vegetable, or as part of a dish (e.g. soups, stews and sandwiches).

Vegetables that are added to dishes such as soups, stews, casseroles, pasta-based dishes and sandwiches can only count as a portion if the vegetables are added in sufficient amounts (for information on appropriate portion sizes, please see the practical guidance section on page 22).

Pulses (e.g. beans and lentils)

Pulses, for example baked beans, kidney beans, lentils and chick peas can be classified as either a protein food or vegetable. However, they can only make up a maximum of one portion of vegetables even if several portions are available. This is because pulses don't give the same range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as other vegetables.

What foods are not counted as a vegetable portion?

Potatoes

Potatoes do not count as a vegetable portion because they are classified as starchy foods which are also an important part of a balanced diet. See page 49 for more information on starchy foods.

Products canned in tomato sauce, e.g. canned spaghetti

Canned spaghetti in tomato sauce and similar products cannot be counted as a vegetable portion. This is because spaghetti is a starchy food and not a vegetable, and tomato sauce does not contain the same mix of fibre and vitamins and minerals as a standard portion of vegetables.

What fruits are included?

All types of fruits whether fresh, frozen, canned and dried are included.

Dried fruit

Dried fruit can count as one of the fruits on offer as part of the school lunch but at least one other type of fruit should be available.

What foods are not counted as a fruit portion?

Fruit juice

Fruit juice is not included in this standard but is dealt with under the drinks standard (refer to section 4).

Include a variety of fruit and vegetables on the menu every day

Different fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The school lunch menus should include a variety of fruit and vegetables over the school week for the pupils to get the most benefit. For example, peas should not be on the menu every day and, if serving salads, regularly, try to include different types of fruit and vegetables.

Practical guidance

What is a suitable portion of fruits or vegetables for pupils?

The amount of fruit and vegetables that children should eat depends on their age. For young people in secondary school and adults, a portion of fruit or vegetables is approximately 80g. There are no set portions for children. However, a guide for primary schools would be to serve at least half an adult portion at the beginning of primary and move towards a full adult portion toward the end of primary. The table below gives some examples of how these portions translate into kitchen servings.

Primary

Secondary

Cooked vegetables

1½-3 heaped tablespoons

3 heaped tablespoons

Mixed salads

½-1 cereal bowl

1 cereal bowl

Salad vegetables

cherry tomatoes

3½-7 cherry tomatoes

7 cherry tomatoes

cucumber

2½-5cm chunk

5cm chunk

celery

1½-3 sticks

3 sticks

peppers

¼-½

½

Pulses such as beans and
lentils - cooked weight

1½-3 heaped tablespoons

3 heaped tablespoons

Small-sized fruit
e.g. plums, clementines, apricots, kiwi fruit,
strawberries, cherries, grapes, raspberries

1 fruit or more

2 fruit or more

1-2 plums

2 plums

1-2 clementines

2 clementines

1½-3 apricots

3 apricots

1-2 kiwi fruit

2 kiwi fruit

3½-7 strawberries

7 strawberries

7-14 cherries

14 cherries

½-1 handful of grapes

1 handful of grapes

1-2 handfuls of raspberries

2 handfuls of raspberries

Medium-sized fruit
e.g. apples, bananas, pears, oranges

½-1 medium fruit

1 medium fruit

Large-sized fruits
e.g. grapefruits, melons, pineapples, mangos

¼-½ grapefruit

½ grapefruit

½-1 slice of melon (2-inch slice)

1 slice of melon (2-inch slice)

½-1 large slice of pineapple

1 large slice of pineapple

1-2 slices of mango (2-inch slices)

2 slices of mango (2-inch slice)

Currants, raisins, sultanas

½-1 heaped tablespoon

1 heaped tablespoon

Dried apricots, figs and prunes

1½-3 whole dried fruits

3 whole dried fruits

Fruit salad, fruit canned in juice

1½-3 heaped tablespoons

3 heaped tablespoons

Stewed fruit

1-2 heaped tablespoons

2 heaped tablespoons

How to increase fruit and vegetable intakes

  • Add extra vegetables and pulses to stews, casseroles or other dishes, and add fresh, canned fruit in natural juice or dried fruit into desserts and puddings.
  • Soups are popular with children and are a useful way of increasing vegetable intake; vegetable-based soup should contain a minimum of one portion of vegetables per serving, and can then be counted as one portion of vegetables.
  • If caterers are using manufactured soups, it is important to make sure they are lower fat, saturated fat and salt varieties (refer to the Nutrient Specifications for manufactured products to assist in the procurement of lower sodium, fat, saturated fat and sugar products).
  • Add fruit to pies, crumbles and other composite fruit dishes ensuring that one serving contains at least one portion of fruit.

Maximising desirable nutrients

Some vitamins and minerals can be easily lost when fruit and vegetables are prepared, cooked or stored so bear the following in mind.

  • Use fresh fruit and vegetables soon after purchase as the vitamin content will decrease the longer they are stored - or use frozen fruit and vegetables.
  • Cook fruit and vegetables as soon as possible after cutting. If this is not possible, cover and chill them.
  • Use cooking methods which use the minimum amount of water - steaming, microwaving, or boiling in minimal water.
  • Serve vegetables as soon after cooking as possible.

Minimising less desirable nutrients in canned foods

  • Use fruits canned in natural fruit juice.
  • Use vegetables and pulses canned in plain water or natural juice and without added salt or sugar.
  • To help meet the nutrient standard for salt, limit the use of pickled vegetables, e.g. pickled onions and pickled beetroot as these can be high in salt.

Fruit and vegetables are a good source of many vitamins and minerals. For more information on the good sources of nutrients see Annex 1.

Oily fish

Standard 2

Oily fish must be provided at least once every three weeks.

Why is this standard important?

Oily fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which have a number of health benefits including helping maintain a healthy heart. Children in Scotland and other parts of the UK do not eat enough oily fish and need encouragement to consume more in the diet. Schools can play a significant role in promoting oily fish consumption.

What are oily fish?

Oily fish are those fish which contain certain types of beneficial fats in their flesh. The fats are called long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. White fish have only very small amounts of these fats in their flesh, so do not count as oily fish.

Examples of oily fish include fresh, canned or frozen salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, or pilchards and fresh or frozen tuna.

While canned tuna is a healthy choice, it does not count as an oily fish as the majority of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are lost in the canning process for tuna. Other canned oily fish are not affected in the same way.

Practical guidance

  • Offer regular small taster portions to introduce pupils to fish dishes they may not have tried before. Small tasters are a very good way of helping children to accept 'new' or 'strange' foods.
  • Offer a variety of dishes over time to encourage pupils to keep eating oily fish. Try fish in dishes that pupils are familiar with such as curry, pasta and pizza.
  • Use oily fish as a filling for sandwiches, wraps, kebabs and baked potatoes. It can also be used to make paté or served on the salad bar.
  • To begin with, try mixing oily fish with white fish to make fish cakes or add salmon fishcakes to the menu.
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the benefits of eating oily fish and get them to encourage pupils to take these dishes.
  • Get pupils involved by running promotions related to increasing oily-fish consumption.
  • If caterers are procuring manufactured fish products, it is important to make sure they are lower fat, saturated fat and salt varieties (refer to the Nutrient Specifications for manufactured products to assist in the procurement of lower sodium, fat, saturated fat and sugar products).

Variety of extra bread

Standard 3

Additional bread must be provided every day as a meal accompaniment, with a variety of bread, which must include brown or wholemeal, being provided over the week.

Why is this standard important?

Bread is a starchy food which provides energy, a range of vitamins and minerals and is a good source of fibre. Pupils who are hungry should be encouraged to fill up on extra bread. This should help satisfy larger appetites.

Eating starchy foods is a key part of a healthy diet. For practical guidance on other starchy foods go to page 49.

Is any type of bread acceptable as an extra?

Most breads are low in fat so are acceptable. These include brown, wholemeal, granary, high-fibre white and white breads, pitas, and rolls. The form of the bread does not matter, so sliced bread, home-made bread, baguettes, bagels, and chapattis may all be used.

Some breads have a lot of fat added to them and this makes them unsuitable to offer every day. These include butteries, croissants and garlic bread.

Practical guidance

  • Providing extra bread as a meal accompaniment at no additional charge to pupils is recommended.
  • Promote wholegrain, wholemeal or brown bread varieties as they have more fibre than white bread.
  • Use a proportion of wholemeal flour when baking home-made bread.
  • Preferably, extra bread should be served without the addition of fats or spreads.
  • Put a bread basket where pupils can help themselves. Bread should be easily seen by the pupils who can then pick up a piece if they wish.
  • Bread is one of the main sources of sodium in the diets of people in the UK. Work is ongoing with the food industry to encourage reductions in the levels of sodium in a wide range of processed foods including bread. If caterers are purchasing bread, it is important to make sure that they select breads with the lowest sodium content. The Nutrient Specifications for Manufactured Products is a useful guide to refer to when trying to procure lower sodium breads.

For practical guidance on the use of sandwiches and other starchy food as part of the school lunch see page 49.

Oils and spreads

Standard 4

Only oils and fat spreads high in polyunsaturated and/or monounsaturated fats can be used in food preparation.

Refer to specific criteria below

Why is this standard important?

As part of a healthy diet, it is not only important to cut down on the amount of total fat eaten, but also to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats (e.g. polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats), which are a healthier alternative.

Saturated fats contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats have less of an effect on blood cholesterol levels and therefore help in reducing the risk of heart disease.

This means that caterers must replace any butter, hard margarines, lard and cooking oils currently used in the preparation of school lunches with those that meet the criteria set out below.

For more information about fats see Annex 1.

What oils are included?

Oils must contain a total saturated fat content which does not exceed 16g per 100g and -

a) a total monounsaturated fat content of at least 55g per 100g;

OR

b) a total polyunsaturated fat content of at least 30g per 100g.

What types of oils are likely to be suitable?

Oils which are rich in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats are likely to include: olive, rapeseed (canola), safflower, sunflower, corn, soya, walnut, linseed, sesame seed and nut oils.

What fat spreads are included?

Fat spreads must contain -

a) a total saturated fat content which does not exceed 20g per 100g;

AND

b) a combined total monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat content of at least 30g per
100g.

What types of spreads are likely to be suitable?

Spreads which are rich in monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fats are likely to include rapeseed, olive oil, sunflower and soya-based choices.

Practical guidance

  • To help meet the nutrient standards for total fat and saturated fat for school lunches, use oils and fats spreads sparingly by:
  • limiting the amount of oils in cooking and dressings; and
  • limiting the amount of fat spreads added to bread, sandwiches, potatoes and vegetables.
  • Oils and spreads used outwith the school lunch should comply with these criteria.

Deep-fried foods

Standard 5

Menus must not contain more than three deep-fried items in a single week (including chips). This includes products which are deep-fried in the manufacturing process.

Chips, if served, must be served as part of a meal.

Why is this standard important?

Reducing the number of occasions when deep fried foods can be served in schools will assist in meeting the nutrient standard for energy and fat.

This standard is important in challenging the culture in Scotland of regularly eating chips and other deep-fried foods. It aims to encourage pupils to eat a healthy balanced meal containing a variety of types of food and to only eat chips occasionally as part of a meal.

Which foods are included?

Any foods which are deep-fried, either in the kitchen or during the manufacturing process. These foods include chips, oven chips, potato waffles, potato wedges, pakora and spring rolls and pre-prepared coated, battered and breaded products, e.g. chicken nuggets, fish fingers, potato shapes, battered onion rings and doughnuts.

Some foods are deep-fried when they are manufactured and only need to be oven baked by the school. These foods are still considered to be deep-fried and can only be served as the standard specifies.

Can fish and chips still be served as part of a school lunch?

Yes, but serving battered or deep-fried fish and chips (including oven chips) on the same day means that only one other deep-fried food can be served on the menu that week. Also, this is only possible if the school lunch menu meets the nutrient standards for school lunches in section 2.

Practical guidance

  • Menu planners may find, when analysing their menus, that deep-fried foods, including chips, can appear on the school lunch menu only once or twice per week to achieve the standards.
  • When frying, always use clean oil, ensure that the oil is at the appropriate temperature and the food is not immersed in the oil for too long. Using the right temperature and timing helps prevent too much fat being absorbed.
  • If caterers are procuring manufactured products, it is important to make sure they are lower fat, saturated fat and salt varieties (refer to the Nutrient Specifications for manufactured products to assist in the procurement of lower sodium, fat, and saturated fat products).
  • Only use permitted oils, e.g. rich in polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats like sunflower oil or a mixed vegetable oil (refer to the mandatory spreads and oils standard on page 29).

Table salt and other condiments

Standard 6

Additional salt must not be provided in schools.

Condiments (if provided) must be dispensed in no more than 10ml portions.

Why is this standard important?

Most children and young people consume more salt than they need, which could have an affect on their health in the future. Eating too much salt increases the risk of high blood pressure, which may then lead to heart disease and stroke.

It is the sodium in salt that can have harmful affects on health. Some foods contain other forms of sodium, such as those used as flavour enhancers (e.g. monosodium glutamate) and raising agents (e.g. sodium bicarbonate).

There are a number of important ways to reduce the amount of salt eaten by pupils.

1. Limit the amount of salt used in cooking, and replace it with other flavourings such as garlic, lemon juice, herbs and spices.

2. Choose foods that have a lower salt content when procuring manufactured foods.

3. Do not add salt to food after the cooking process.

4. Limit the use of condiments.

This standard no longer allows table salt to be added to food after the cooking process, and therefore means that salt cellars and sachets must not be available for pupils to use.

The standard also restricts the amount of other condiments that are available as they have a high salt content.

Condiments include: tomato ketchup, brown sauce, mayonnaise, salad cream, French dressing, mustard, soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, tabasco sauce, plain and creamed horseradish sauce, mint sauce, mint jelly, tartare sauce, pickles and relishes.

Practical guidance

  • Only serve condiments on request, keeping them away from till points.
  • Where available, condiments must be included in the nutrient analysis of the menu.

For good practice guidance on reducing salt in cooking and for the procurement of lower salt manufactured foods see section 5 and for further information on salt see Annex 1.

Confectionery

Standard 7

No confectionery can be provided.

Why is this standard important?

Confectionery items contain large amounts of added sugar (non-milk extrinsic sugars) and some also contain high amounts of fat. These foods are high in energy (calories) but provide very few nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals and fibre. Sugar-free sweets also provide little nutritional value and could displace other more nutritious food from the diet.

This standard aims to improve dental health by reducing the frequency that children and young people consume sugars. It also aims to improve the overall diet by restricting foods high in sugar and fats that may be over consumed and lead to overweight and obesity.

The Hungry for Success initiative has already made good progress in removing confectionery from the school lunch service.

See Annex 1 for more information about non-milk extrinsic sugars.

What does the term confectionery include?

The term confectionery refers to the following groups of products.

  • Chocolate and chocolate products: e.g. bars of milk, plain or white chocolate, chocolate flakes, chocolate buttons, chocolate chips or chocolate-filled eggs.
  • Chocolate-coated products: e.g. partly- or fully-coated biscuits, chocolate-coated fruits or nuts, choc ices and chocolate-coated ice-cream.
  • Sweets: e.g. boiled, gum/gelatine, liquorice, mint and other sweets, lollipops, fudge, tablet, toffee, sherbet, marshmallows and chewing gum; this includes sugar-free sweets.
  • Cereal bars, processed fruit sweets and bars and sugared or yoghurt-coated fruit
    or nuts.

What is permitted?

Cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate) can be used in cakes, biscuits, puddings and drinks in order to allow caterers flexibility in devising their menus. However, any product which is available for pupils to have at lunchtime will need to be included in the nutrient analysis.

Practical guidance

  • It is likely that cakes, biscuits, ice-cream and tray bakes will have to be limited to ensure that the school's menu achieves the nutrient standards.
  • Any cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, etc. containing confectionery is not permitted.
  • Cakes and biscuits should not be a substitute for confectionery.

See page 54 for practical guidance on desserts at lunchtime.

Savoury snacks

Standard 8

No savoury snacks can be provided as part of the school lunch except for savoury crackers, oatcakes and breadsticks.

Why is this standard important?

Children and young people need to be encouraged to eat a healthy balanced meal at lunchtimes. Savoury snacks such as crisps tend to be high in fat and salt and can push foods out of the diet which may contain important nutrients.

Which foods cannot be served?

Foods which are not allowed as part of the school lunch include:

  • any pre-packaged items which can be eaten without preparation and consist of or include as a basic ingredient potatoes, other root vegetables, cereals such as crisps, corn puff or corn snacks, cornmeal snacks, tortilla chips, pretzels, sweetened or salted popcorn, prawn crackers, flavoured rice cakes, and Bombay mix
  • nuts and seeds with added salt, sugar or fat.

Are there any exceptions?

Nuts and seeds with no added salt, sugar or fat, savoury crackers, oatcakes, breadsticks, can be served but they need to be included in the nutrient analysis to make sure that the lunch menu meets the nutrient standards (as set out in section 2).

Practical guidance

  • Combinations of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, plain popcorn and fruit and vegetable snacks can all be served provided they have no added salt or sugar.
  • Be aware of nut allergies. Always refer back to the school and catering allergy policies. This standard should be interpreted in light of these policies.
  • As savoury snacks meeting specified criteria (see page 61) can be provided or sold outwith the school lunch, schools need to carefully consider the placement and availability of such snacks, e.g. in vending machines, as these products are not permitted to be provided during the school lunch service.

Contact

Email: Central Enquiries Unit, ceu@gov.scot

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