Scotland politics

Scottish school meal standards to be reviewed

School meal being served Image copyright Reuters

The Scottish government has announced a review of school meal standards.

Education Secretary John Swinney said Scotland already had some of the highest standards in Europe, but has asked experts to look into whether further improvements are needed.

Mr Swinney wants school food to be "sourced as locally as possible".

The announcement came after the BBC revealed Scottish councils were spending millions importing food which could be sourced in Scotland.

Announcing the review, Mr Swinney said he had asked Food Standards Scotland, NHS Health Scotland and Education Scotland to look at where provision of school meals could be improved.

He said: "School food matters, in terms of what children eat and what they learn about.

"With almost 366,000 school meals served up in Scottish schools every day we must ensure nutritional standards are the best they can be.

"I also want children, especially primary pupils, to have as many of their 'five a day' as they can and for food to be sourced as locally as possible.

"Since our internationally-admired school meal regulations were introduced in 2008, the scientific evidence and dietary advice has changed.

"Nearly a decade on, the time is right to review whether school food provision can be further improved."

He added: "The short-life working group I have established is examining the scientific and technical detail of the latest evidence and advice regarding nutritional standards.

"Once that group reports back this summer, I will then seek the views of young people, parents, industry, catering and other stakeholder groups before taking forward any potential changes."

Scottish Labour's education spokesman Iain Gray said: "Diet can have a huge impact on pupils ability to learn, so it is essential they are provided with nutritious food. That's why Scottish Labour believes there should be a breakfast club in every school.

"It'll mean that our children start the day with a healthy meal, that'll help cut the attainment gap in our classrooms and inequality in our communities."

The Scottish Conservatives health education spokesman Brian Whittle said: "It's absolutely appalling that we're not buying products for our schools and hospitals from here in Scotland.

"Our farmers produce the highest quality of food, ensure high standards of animal welfare and pay a minimum wage.

"To not then buy their goods is scandalous, and I'm delighted that John Swinney is finally coming to terms with this."

Last week Aberdeen City Council officials warned that the amount of fruit and vegetables served in school meals might have to be cut if budgets were not increased.

They said price rises were putting increasing pressure on catering.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites