Young Co-operatives: How will the new nutrition regulations affect you?
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 any other food and drink provision throughout the school day will have to comply. This guide aims to help you decide how the nutrition standards apply to you depending on when and where you run your Young Cooperatives stall.
If your young co-operative is selling food and drink during the school day, for the intention of being eaten during the school day, you will have to make sure what you sell meets the new nutrition standards.
The standards are as follows:
- No confectionery sold in schools. This includes chocolate, chocolate products such as coated dried fruit, yogurt-coated fruit and nuts, cereal bars and sweets.
- No bagged snacks other than nuts and seeds (without added salt, sugar or fat) will be sold in schools.
- A variety of fruit and vegetables should be available in all school food outlets.
- Apart from drinking water the only other drinks available in school will be milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed), pure fruit juices, yogurt and milk drinks (with less than 5% added sugar, or artificial sweeteners), drinks made from a combination of these, low-calorie hot chocolate, tea and coffee.
The new standards have been developed to increase the intake of healthier foods and to restrict junk foods high in fat, sugar and salt. However, the School Food Trust does suggest that a common-sense approach to the healthfulness of foods should be adopted. What this approach offers is consideration of not just the fat, sugar and salt content of any proposed product, but also the contribution it might make to energy, protein, fibre, calcium, iron and other micronutrients in a young person's diet.
Examples of foods that could be sold at mid-morning break, as recommended by the School Food Trust, include sandwiches and wraps, fruit, nuts, pasta salads, yogurt and drinks such as water, milk, fruit smoothies and juices. Many of such products are now available in Fairtrade certified options, and information about this is available from the Fairtrade Foundation website. Young co-operatives running their stall during school break are encouraged to consider the overall health impact of food and beverages they are selling to young people's daily nutrition. The Government's Balance of Good Health model for nutrition education is the official nutrition education tool and can be used as a good start point even understanding healthy eating. This is available from the Food Standards Agency website (www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/bghbooklet.pdf).
Food items 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. These items include things like pasta, rice, muesli, cocoa, sugar, spices, oil, honey and jam. The key here is that these foods are cooking ingredients and cannot be classified as snack foods or beverages.
If your young co-operative stall sells food and drinks to staff or parents only (i.e. adults) you can carry on as before, selling any food or drink products.
If your young co-operative sells food and drinks at occasional events or outside of school, you can continue as before, selling any food or drink products. Food provision for special events, festivities, parents' evenings and functions are exempt from the regulations and occasional festive treats will not fall under the standards. The key here is 'occasional'; regular weekly events would have to comply with the nutrition standards.
The School Food Trust has explained that: ”A weekly cake sale could be deemed to come under the heading of 'treats' and we are trying to get children away from the idea that less healthy options are treats. However, we are aware that such events do raise funds. Our advice has to be that you should avoid selling confectionery on school premises and try to find a healthier way of raising the funds you need.”
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: http://www.youngcooperatives.org.uk/
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: http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/index.asp
This publication has been produced by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming https://www.sustainweb.org/page.php?id=220 on behalf of Young Cooperatives and supported by a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
*items in red are likely to be subject to change