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Sustain / Healthy Schools & Fair Trade

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As of September 2007 all food and drinks sold in schools, for consumption by pupils, will have to meet a set of nutrition standards.

The new standards have been developed to increase the intake of healthier foods and to restrict junk foods high in fat, sugar and salt. This means that tuck shops, after-school clubs, breakfast provision, vending machines, mid-morning break services and any other food and drink provision throughout the school day will have to comply. This document provides you with answers to common questions about the new nutrition standards.


Q: The new nutrition standards for food other than lunch states that no confectionary will be sold in schools. What does confectionary include?

A: The term 'confectionary' covers a wide range of products:

  • Chocolate and chocolate products, for example: bars of milk, plain or white chocolate; chocolate flakes, buttons, or chocolate-filled eggs. 
  • Chocolate-coated bars and biscuits containing or coated in chocolate (including partly and fully-coated biscuits such as chocolate digestives, chocolate-covered caramel wafers, chocolate fingers, choc chip cookies).
  • Sweets. For example: boiled, chewy, gum, liquorice, mint and other sweets, also sherbet, fudge, marshmallows, toffee, and chewing-gum; this includes sugar-free sweets and chewing-gum.
  • Cereal chewy bars, cereal crunchy bars, processed fruit bars and sugared, dried and yoghurt or chocolate-coated fruit.
  • Choc-ices and other chocolate-coated ice cream.

Q: Are processed fruit bars that are made up of purely dried fruit allowed?

A: Bars that are purely dried fruit in its original form (i.e. not processed and extruded into a 'bar' or 'leather') count as fruit and are therefore permitted under the standards.

Processed fruit bars have been excluded from food provision during the school day because the physical characteristics of processed fruit bars are changed during processing. The sugar has been released from the fruit cells, and the sticky texture of such products means that they are more likely to adhere to teeth, causing increased risk of tooth decay.

Be aware of the fact that fruit bars classed as one of the recommended '5 a day' portions only indicates how much fruit a bar contains, not the processes used during production or what the remaining non fruit proportion of a bar's ingredients are, which may be high in sugar, fat or salt.


Q: Our cereal bars are baked and made completely of natural ingredients, surely we are allowed to sell them?

A: Cereal bars have been excluded from food provision during the school day for the following reasons:

The Government's food-based standards have been guided by the School Meal Review Panel (SMRP) who recommended that the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) adopt the Eurocode definition of confectionary, which classes bars of this type as confectionary.

Cereal bars may not be as healthy as they may seem. In an investigation into 20 of the top-selling cereal bars in the UK, the Consumers' Association found all bars to be high in sugar and more than half were also high in saturated fat.
For details of this research visit:


Q: Our school is running a health week.  Where can I get some healthy eating promotional materials from, such as posters and leaflets?

A: The Grab 5! Action Pack lists organisations that provide food related curriculum materials and healthy eating posters, leaflets, stickers etc. See:

The government's Food Standards Agency website provides a wealth of information on healthy eating, hygiene, labelling and food research as well as providing free publications and links. Visit: for a Government approved guide to healthy eating. Why not make posters or leaflets of your own based on this information?

The ChewOnThis website from the Food Commission has lots of worksheets on healthy eating, which are free to download. See:


Q: How can we promote fresh fruit in our school?

A: There are many opportunities to promote and encourage the consumption of fresh foods throughout the school day and fair-trade provides a perfect opportunity for this. Check out updates on the Events! page on the Healthy Schools and Fair-trade project website for ideas on how to sell fair-trade fruit on your young co-operative stall:


Q: Dried fruit is sweet, why is this allowed and confectionary not?

A: Fruit is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Results from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey showed that British children are eating less than half the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day. This puts them at risk of heart disease and some cancers in later life.  The School Food Trust recommends that there should be a variety of fruit and vegetables available in all school food outlets to encourage children to meet their 5-a-day goal. This can include fresh, dried, frozen, canned or juiced varieties as they all retain their beneficial compounds. By removing confectionary from school outlets we ensure that sweets and crisps do not displace foods with greater nutritional value such as fruit.


Q: Where can I find information on how to set up a fair-trade breakfast club?

A: Breakfast can be the most important meal of the day. But many children regularly miss breakfast or resort to snacking on crisps and chocolate on the way to school. Breakfast clubs can provide a combination of a healthy breakfast and an opportunity for educational and social activities, perfect for learning about fair trade. The Events! page explains how to set up a fair-trade breakfast club:


Q: Can we sell fair-trade cakes and biscuits?

A: Cakes and biscuits should not be available in schools except at lunchtime, and then only as part of the school lunch service. Young Co-operatives running a regular (weekly) stall will not be able to sell cakes and biscuits.

Young co-operatives can sell cakes and biscuits on an occasional basis (not weekly), for example at parents' evenings or special functions. Special events are exempt from the regulations. See the young co-operatives online guide to find out how the regulations affect you:


Q: Can we continue to sell raw ingredients such as sugar, cocoa or pasta?

A: Items such as muesli, pasta, sugar and cocoa intended for pupils to take home rather than consume in school do not fall under the standards and can continue to be sold as before.



Young Co-operatives is a not-for-profit organisation that offers young people (usually aged 13-17) a practical introduction to fair trade and co-operative ways of working. It gives them the chance to run their own co-operative selling fairly traded products, acquiring valuable business skills and making a real difference to the lives of producers in poor countries and their families. For more information visit:

The School Food Trust website provides full information on the nutrition standards for school food, and its staff are able to answer any direct questions you may have:

This publication has been produced by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming on behalf of Young Cooperatives and supported by a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Healthy Schools & Fair Trade: Sustain was contracted by Young Co-operatives to assess the implications of the new school food standards for fair-trade food and drink products sold in schools. This work was supported by a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

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