Attempted ban on unhealthy food sales in school lifted
Thursday, 05 February 2009

An attempted ban on selling unhealthy food in schools has been lifted by the Government.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said she had decided to remove the National Administration Guideline (5) which tells schools that "where food and beverages are sold on school premises, to make only healthy options available".

Mrs Tolley said this meant schools would no longer be required to act as "food police".

The Government believed the rule was unnecessary and had caused confusion for schools, particularly around fundraising and school events.

Schools were outraged when the clause was introduced last year and saw it as yet another increase in unnecessary bureaucracy, Mrs Tolley said.

"I believe boards of trustees should be able to make their own decisions about appropriate food and drink options. After all, they are parents who should be aware of what good and bad foods are. I am confident they will act responsibly," Mrs Tolley said.

"It should be noted that clause two in the National Administration Guideline (5) that requires schools to promote healthy food and drink to students remains in place."

When the clause came into effect surveys showed many schools were not complying or reporting that students were just buying unhealthy food outside school and bringing it in.

There were also reports that a number of tuck shops were closing, losing money or finding it difficult to comply with the rules.

Others, including the Greens, welcomed the move and noted that it had resulted in an increase in the number of healthy options being served up in tuck shops.

Secondary Principals' Association president Peter Gall said at the time the changes were harsh, and some schools would see them as an encroachment on freedom.

Green MP Sue Kedgley said she was "very surprised" by Mr Gall's comments, as clear links had repeatedly been shown between a healthy diet and the ability for children to concentrate at school.

A survey before the rules came into effect reported that 50 per cent were not offering any fruit, and 25 per cent were not offering any sandwiches in their canteens.

Ms Kedgley said that arguing the children would still buy the products elsewhere was "a nonsense".

"Teenagers can buy cigarettes at the local dairy, but that doesn't mean we should allow them to sell them at school.

"Schools should set an example and be a model as far as we're concerned."

From here.