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'Cafeteria-style meals not right for primaries';Digest

Government draft guidelines on school meals published this month are intended to ensure that children have a healthier diet. They say chips, roast or fried potatoes should be offered no more than three times a week, and baked beans served as a vegetable only once.

The Department for Education and Employment consultation document says:

"Primary pupils should have some choice, but we do not think that cafeteria-style meals where pupils put together any combination of available foods are right for this age group." New nutritional standards should increase the iron content of the school lunch, increase the amount of fruit and vegetables served and reduce fat.

The draft regulations also say:

* Fresh fruit or fruit salad must be offered at least twice a week * Fish must be an option at least once a week * Red meat-based meals should be served at least two - but no more than three - times a week.

* Pasta and rice should each be offered at least once a week.

The guidelines will be out to consultation until January 15 and then phased in over two years. They are available from DfEE Publications, tel 0845 6022260. Ref: CPDR99.

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