Healthy eating in schools: guidance 2020

Statutory guidance supporting the implementation of the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

Section 2: Key changes since the 2008 Regulations

What are the key differences between the food and drink standards in the 2008 Regulations and those in the 2020 Regulations?

1. Different criteria for some of the food and drink standards for primary and secondary settings

In 2008 the criteria for all food and drink standards applied equally to both primary and secondary settings. In the 2020 Regulations some of the food and drink standards now have different criteria for primary and secondary settings. Young people have more flexibility than children to choose when they access their food and drink across the school day and what products they choose at those times. By tailoring the criteria to account for this, the nutritional needs of young people can better be met.

2. Fibre

All bread, bread rolls and breakfast cereals now need to meet a new minimum requirement of 3g AOAC fibre per 100g. A minimum fibre content will help contribute towards meeting the nutrient standard for fibre. AOAC fibre is now the standard methodology used in product analysis and food labelling for calculating fibre.

3. Fruit and Vegetables

In the 2008 Regulations provision focused on 'types' of fruit and vegetables to encourage children to try a wide variety. Provision will now focus on 'full portions' in order to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables children and young people are encouraged to eat across the school day.

4. Red and red processed meat

This is a new standard which sets a maximum level for provision of red and red processed meat across the school week in order to align with current dietary advice. The definition of red and red processed meat can be found in Annex A and is referred to as 'specified red and red processed meat' in the 2020 Regulations.

5. Sugar

A new definition for sugar has been introduced. The 2008 Regulations were based on the definition of non-milk extrinsic sugar and total sugar. The way sugar is defined has now changed and is known as free sugar and total sugar. The definition of free sugar and total sugar can be found in Annex A. For further information on calculating sugars refer to the Nutritional Analysis Manual available on the Education Scotland website.

In order to significantly reduce the amount of free sugar provided across the school day, the following changes have been introduced:

  • Sweetened baked goods and desserts, fromage frais, yoghurt and other milk-based desserts, and breakfast cereal will now need to meet the criteria set for these new standards.
  • Fruit juice, smoothies and combination fruit and vegetable drinks can no longer be provided. Although these products can count as one of our five a day they also contain a significant amount of free sugar. Removing them from a school setting means that the maximum recommended sugar intake can be applied across as wide a range of foods and drinks as possible to ensure greater choice for children and young people.
  • Lower fat (for example semi-skimmed and skimmed) milk drinks (such as hot chocolate, flavoured milk and drinking yoghurts) will no longer be allowed to contain added sugar.

Please refer to Annex C for advice on the use of sweeteners in schools.

6. Pastry products

A new standard has been introduced to limit how often pastry products can be provided across the school week. These products tend to be high in fat and should therefore not be consumed regularly.

7. Sugar-free soft drinks in secondary schools only

Sugar-free soft drinks can now be provided if education authorities choose to include them as part of the school day. While regular consumption of these drinks should be discouraged due to habit setting, we recognise that secondary schools can play a key role in shaping the choices young people make about how to include these items as part of a balanced diet during the school day and beyond. Education authorities will be able to decide how frequently they should be offered, if at all, in line with whole school food and drink policies to ensure that consistent messaging is given to young people.

8. Secondary school analysed lunches

While secondary school provision has moved towards an enhanced set of food and drink standards, it is important that young people can continue to access a school lunch that meets the requirements set out in the nutrient standards if they chose to. To achieve this the secondary school analysed lunch has been introduced.

9. Nutrient Standards

The nutrients standards which apply to primary school lunches, secondary school analysed school lunches and secondary school hostel evening meals have been updated in line with scientific evidence and dietary advice.

10. Energy

In addition to a weekly energy tolerance, a new daily energy tolerance has been introduced. This will reduce the variation and extremes in energy content on different days throughout the week.



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