Blog: Dean BestMcCain chips in on school meals debate

Dean Best | 5 June 2007

The UK government has faced some flak over its policy on school meals from an executive behind of the world’s top food brands.

Bill Bartlett, from McCain Foods, maker of the namesake chip brand, warned that UK children are turning away from the fare served in schools amid a drive to improve the nutritional content of the food.

Bartlett said that under guideline set up by the School Foods Trust, deep fried foods could only be served twice a week. The flaw in the regulations, he argued, is that they also include food fried at the manufacturing process, a stipulation that catches a number of products, not just “junk” food.

“Kids are voting with their feet,” Bartlett said at the Food and Beverage 2007 conference in London yesterday (4 June). Bartlett said there has been a 10% decline in school meals, which suggests the UK government’s aim of improving the health of schoolchildren could be being undermined.

It could be argued that McCain wants to keep chips on the menu for kids at school. In fairness, the company has worked hard to reformulate and improve the nutritional content of its products and has met the growing clamour over obesity head on.

There will be some debate on McCain's reasons for raising these points but they are interesting nonetheless. With less UK children eating school meals, the effectiveness of government policy in the area may face some questions.


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