Publication - Consultation analysis

Food and drink in schools: consultation analysis report

Published: 13 Jun 2019
Directorate:
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education
ISBN:
9781787819337

An analysis of responses given on the nutritional requirements for food and drink in schools.

Food and drink in schools: consultation analysis report
Analysis of Responses

Analysis of Responses

Theme One - Access to Fruit and Vegetables

Based on the recommendations of the Technical Working Group (TWG), we proposed to amend the school food and drink Regulations to require a minimum of two portions of vegetables and a portion of fruit to be offered as part of a primary school lunch. In addition, full portions of fruit and/or vegetables must also be made available in any place within the school where food is provided, for example in a tuck shop.

For secondary schools, based on the recommendations of the TWG, we proposed to amend the school food and drink Regulations to require two portions of vegetables and a portion of fruit to be offered as part of a full school lunch. In addition, where secondary pupils are choosing to take a main meal rather than a full lunch, that main meal must include salad or vegetables as part of the meal. Full portions of fruit and/or vegetables must also be made available in any place within the school where food is provided for example a morning break service.

Question One

What are your views on our intention to amend the current school food and drink Regulations to ensure children and young people are able to access more fruit and vegetables as part of their school day?

Responses

1344 respondents answered this question. Of those 84% were broadly supportive of this proposal. Specifically, 74% (996) agreed with the proposal outright with a further 10% (138) agreeing but with caveats such as the proposal was a good start but doesn’t go far enough or the ratio between fruit and veg should be more flexible. Less than 0.5% (6) disagreed with the proposal with comments such as the current standard is fine as it is. The remaining 15% (204) answered in a way that meant a conclusion could not be drawn, for example they provided comments on implementation but did not indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with the proposal or they provided general comments about related issues but did not answer the question.

Theme Two

The second theme focused upon reducing the sugar content of food and drink provided in schools. In particular we proposed introducing a limit on the frequency of provision of sweetened and baked foods typically high in sugar in primary schools at lunchtime, and introducing sugar limits for products such as breakfast cereals, yoghurts, sweetened and baked products across the school day. The aim being to reduce sugar provision over the school day and encourage more consumption of fruit and lower sugar alternatives.

For primary schools based on the TWG recommendations, we proposed to reinforce that for drinks; water, plain lower fat milk and calcium enriched milk alternatives should be the main focus with no added sugar, lower fat milk drinks (for example flavoured milk and hot chocolate) and drinking yoghurts being permitted at the discretion of schools and local authorities to allow additional choice. We also proposed that fruit juice; vegetable juice; smoothies and fruit juice combinations would no longer be on the permitted drinks list, due to their high sugar content.

For secondary schools based on the TWG recommendations, we proposed to reinforce that for drinks; water, plain lower fat milk and calcium enriched milk alternatives should be the main focus with tea; coffee; no added sugar, lower fat milk drinks (for example flavoured milk and hot chocolate); no added sugar drinking yoghurts; and no added sugar soft drinks (excluding high caffeine) being permitted at the discretion of schools and local authorities to allow additional choice. We also proposed that fruit juice; vegetable juice; smoothies and fruit juice combinations would no longer be on the permitted drinks list, due to their high sugar content.

Question Two

What are your views on our intention to amend the current school food and drink Regulations to ensure the amount of sugar children and young people can access over the course of the school day is reduced?

Responses

1348 respondents answered this question, of those 84% were broadly supportive of this proposal. Specifically, 57% (771) agreed with the proposal outright (which includes removing fruit juice, allow no added sugar flavoured milk and in secondary schools allowing only no added sugar drinks), a further 27% (360) were broadly supportive but with caveats for example fruit juice should continue to be allowed occasionally. The remaining 16% (217) disagreed with the proposals commenting for example that the current standards were strict enough.

In addition to general agreement or disagreement to this proposal as a whole set out in the figures above, this question drew common comment on specific elements of this proposal which were also noted in the responses to other parts of this consultation and as such have been calculated based on the total number (1359) responses received for this consultation:

  • 13.8% (188) respondents specifically commented that fruit juice and smoothies should remain an option in schools. 2.8% (39) specifically commented that they should not be allowed.
  • 10.8% (147) specifically commented that drinking yoghurt, hot chocolate and/or flavoured milk should not be permitted in schools while 0.9% (13) commented that they should be allowed in schools. However, of the 10.8%, a common comment was that flavoured milk has more sugar than fruit juice. This leads us to believe that there may have been some confusion about this element of the proposal. Under the current Regulations this category of drink is permitted to contain a limited amount of added sugar. Under the new proposals, this category of drink cannot contain any added sugar which will contribute to reduced sugar intake but still enable choice.
  • 6% (82) specifically commented that sugar free carbonated drinks should be allowed in secondary schools. In contrast, 0.9% (12) specifically commented that they should not.

Theme Three

This theme focused upon the provision of red and red processed meat. Red meat can provide a good source of vital nutrients such as iron, and inclusion in the school meal menu can contribute to meeting the nutrient standards. However, there is also robust scientific evidence of links between red and red processed meat and potential risk of developing colorectal cancer in later life when eaten in higher than maximum recommended levels. In order to retain the benefits, but minimise the risks to children’s health, based on the TWG recommendations we proposed an introduction of a maximum amount for red and red processed meat as part of school food and drink provision across the school week.

Question Three

What are your views on our intention to amend the school food and drink Regulations to set a maximum for red and red processed meat in primary school lunches and for overall provision in secondary schools?

Responses

1332 respondents answered this question. Overall 53% were broadly supportive of this proposal. Specifically, 47% (630) agreed with the proposal outright and a further 6% (87) agreed but with caveats such as a good start but doesn’t go far enough. 3.9% (52) disagreed with the proposal with comments indicating that they did not believe in the science behind the proposal or that pupils should decide for themselves. The remaining 20% (266) responses did not contain enough information to draw a conclusion, for example, provided general comments but no answer either in support or against the proposal.

This question drew a number of common comments on specific elements of this theme which were also noted in other parts of this consultation and as such has been calculated based on the total number (1359) responses received for this consultation:

  • 9.1% (123) specifically commented that meat should be banned from school menus altogether.
  • 7.5% (100) specifically commented that only processed meat should be limited
  • 5.3% (71) specifically responded that processed meat should be banned altogether

Theme Four

The fourth theme focused on the difference between the eating habits of pupils in primary school and secondary school.

For a range of reasons, most secondary school pupils tend to choose to eat across the school day rather than within specific lunch periods. Furthermore, most services sell items individually meaning planning provision to meet the nutrient standards does not always lead to the intended outcome of secondary school pupils choosing a selection of items which will provide them with a nutritionally balanced meal. This makes applying nutrient standards in secondary schools particularly challenging where pupils do not take a set meal. For example, instead of taking a two course lunch which will include a balanced range of nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, etc) they may choose one or two items which include more of one nutrient than others.

Our proposal based on the TWG recommendations was to change the school food and drink regulations so that school meal providers had to demonstrate that young people could still choose and consume a meal which meets their nutritional requirements, whilst simultaneously introducing a wider range of food and drink standards across the full school day.

These additional food and drink standards, for example, a restriction on the number of pastry products, and a restriction on the amount of sugar and fat contained in sweetened and baked goods, aim to bring all food and drinks provided in secondary schools closer to the Scottish Dietary Goals.

Question Four

What are your views on our intention to amend the school food and drink Regulations to enable caterers to provide a service which better supports secondary age pupils to make balanced and nutritious food and drink choices as part of their school day?

Responses

1304 of respondents answered this question. Overall 71% were broadly supportive of this proposal. Specifically, 54% (707) agreed with the proposal outright with a further 17% (227) broadly agreeing but with caveats. 4.5% (58) disagreed with the proposal commenting for example that secondary school pupils should make their own choices. The remaining 24% (312) responses did not contain enough detail to draw a conclusion.

Question Five

The fifth question provided an opportunity for people to offer any additional comments they may have about the content of school food and drink provision which they felt was important to note but had not addressed in the first four theme specific questions.

The question asked “Do you have anything else you wish to comment on in relation to the nutritional content of food and drink provided in local authority, and grant maintained, schools in Scotland via the school food and drink Regulations?”

Responses

1186 of those who responded to this consultation took the opportunity to provide comments in relation to this question.

The comments provided under this question in relation to content of school food and drink have been included within the analysis and commentary for questions one to four in recognition that they relate to one of the four themes dealt with by those questions.

The comments provided under this question that relate to implementation will be considered when amending the guidance which will support the amended school food and drink Regulations.


Contact

Email: douglas.forrester@gov.scot