Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Oliver condemns Gove on school food

Jamie Oliver has criticised the Government for taking away nutritional standards in academies

Michael Gove has been blasted as presiding over the "worst yet" school food standards by TV chef Jamie Oliver.

Mr Oliver, who has spearheaded campaigns to improve school meals for several years, condemned the Government for taking away nutritional standards in academies - and pledged to fight to see them reinstated.

Pursuing his campaign through TV shows including Channel 4's Jamie's School Dinners in 2005, Mr Oliver was credited with helping improve nutrition by taking out junk food - infamously including Turkey Twizzlers - and seeing it replaced with healthier options.

Under Mr Gove's plans academies - a status now available to all schools which apply for it - can opt out of nationally mandated nutritional standards.

But speaking on the Radio Two Breakfast Show, Oliver said: "What we have had for the last four years is some remarkable change. Lunch cooks around the country have been doing some wonderful things, and they still are.

"But it's about feeding every British kid a great meal, 190 days a year, from the age of four to 18. I have to say this Government, and I'm not getting political, as far as school food is concerned I think is the worst one yet.

"Mr Gove has taken away the nutritional standards, which is something I'm still battling on about. I think it's an abuse of policy you can take away standards from a child's food when mums and dads are busy around the country.

"You've got standards for the water in the tap, standards for drivers carrying the kids on the bus, standards for the nurses, standards for the teachers - but the food doesn't matter. It's a shame."

A review of school food was launched by the Department for Education in July, headed by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, co-founders of the Leon restaurant chain. The goal is to establish an action plan for improved food in all schools.

Challenged in the Commons in June about the school dinner rules in academies, Mr Gove said: "The facts show that there has been no deterioration in the quality of food offered at academies and it is not the case that academies are offering worse food at lunchtime than at other schools."

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