Two female school dinner staff with children eating in background.

Council staff will extend checks to cover nutritional standards

Council food safety officers will be putting school dinners under the spotlight as part of a nationwide pilot scheme to ensure standards are being met

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is one of 18 local authorities selected to take part in the trial being run by The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Department for Education.

The School Food Standards Compliance pilot will assess whether local council officers, who routinely carry out hygiene inspections in school kitchens, can also run checks on the nutritional standards of meals being served.   

The six-strong Tonbridge and Malling team will be checking areas such as how many portions of fruit and veg are served each day and whether non-permitted sugary items are being offered. Lessons from the pilot, which runs for the academic year ending in summer 2023, could be used to roll the scheme out nationwide.

Cllr Robin Betts, the council’s lead cabinet member for environmental health, said: ‘The standards exist to ensure youngsters are getting healthy, nutritious food at school which helps them grow, develop and learn.

‘Given our expert team already visit local schools to carry out hygiene checks, they’re well placed to extend that role to assessing whether food standards are being met and helping head teachers in making improvements where required.’

Professor Susan Jebb, FSA Chair, said: ‘Schools play a crucial role in providing children with healthy food to help them concentrate and thrive in the classroom and beyond. 

‘We all want to ensure that the food served in schools meets the standards that have been set. This project will give insight into what’s happening in schools today and identify whether additional support is needed to help them to do the very best they can for children and drive positive change in the school food system.’

Published: Wednesday, 30th November 2022