New standards on school dinners to cut down deep-fried food, sugar and pastry

New standards on school dinners have been announced. Credit: PA

A new set of standards has been launched for all food served in schools in England.

The government says the new guidelines are designed to make it "easier for school cooks to create imaginative, flexible and nutritious menus".

They will be mandatory in all maintained schools, as well as new academies and free schools.

The new standards include:

High fat, sugar and salt

  • Maximum two portions of deep-fried,batter-coated or breadcrumb-coated food each week

  • Maximum two portions containing pastry each week

  • No snacks except nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit with no additives

  • No sweets, chocolate or chocolate-covered products

  • No salt can be added to food after it has been cooked

Fruit and vegetables

  • One or more portions of vegetables or salad as an accompaniment every day

  • One or more portions of fruit every day

  • A dessert containing at least 50% fruit two or more times a week

  • At least three different fruits and three different vegetables each week


  • Fruit juice portions limited to 150mls

  • Added sugars or honey in other drinks restricted to 5%

  • Water promoted as the drink of choice


  • Wholegrain foods favoured in place of refined carbohydrates

  • One or more starchy foods available each day

  • A portion of meat, poultry or non-dairy protein on three or more days each week

  • Bread with no added fat or oil available every day

Officials have admitted that previous standards were complicated and explensive Credit: PA

Education Secretary Michael Gove says the new standards are "clear and concise" and will be less expensive for schools to enforce than previous guidelines.

DfE said previous standards, introduced between 2006 and 2009, were complicated and expensive to enforce.

According to officials, 90% of school cooks said the new rules were easier to implement than the old standards, with co-author Henry Dimbleby stating they could also allow more flexibility.

The new guidelines include a limit on refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta. Credit: PA

Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health at University of Oxford said children "eat too much saturated fat, sugar and salt" and the new guidelines would help offer a more healthy variety.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) welcomed the new standards, but said the fact that they were only enforcable in academies and free schools opening from this month meant large numbers of those existing free schools would only be required to sign up on a voluntary basis.

"This will significantly weaken the message that all schools should provide a healthy and balanced diet to all children," the union said in a statement.

Read: Fried food, sugar and pastry cut from school dinners