Alarm over rise in junk food options

Last updated 05:00 17/04/2009

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School tuckshops are selling 14 per cent more junk food such as pies and sausage rolls than last year, sparking calls for the reinstatement of healthy eating guidelines.

The Green Party released its annual school food survey yesterday.

It showed a 14 per cent rise in pie, hot dog, sausage roll and hot-bite sales compared with the year before.

More than half of the 50 schools surveyed sold donuts, cookies and cakes while 42 per cent sold chips.

The Green Party says the survey results show an urgent need for the reinstatement of the School Food Guidelines ditched by Education Minister Anne Tolley this year.

Tolley told The Press schools were still required to promote healthy food and drink options and she trusted school boards of trustees to make appropriate decisions.

Green Party health spokeswoman Sue Kedgley said schools were now free to sell as much junk food as they pleased.

"Any improvement in school canteen food since the inception of the now abandoned school food guidelines is likely to be lost," Kedgley said. "Our survey shows that contrary to what Anne Tolley claims, waiting for schools to improve their menus voluntarily isn't going to work.

"Government leadership is needed and the nutritional guidelines need to be urgently reinstated."

The survey showed some positive results, she said. More than 60 per cent of schools now offered bottled water and 70 per cent sold fruit.

Canterbury District Health Board population and public health general manager Evon Currie said the results of the survey were "terribly disappointing", as was Tolley's decision to drop healthy eating guidelines.

The board wrote to Tolley and Health Minister Tony Ryall after the guidelines were disestablished to complain but had not heard back, Currie said.

Progress had been made in Canterbury schools to introduce healthy options. The disestablished guidelines provided minimum standards for food served in tuckshops, Currie said.

These were no longer in place.

Currie said putting up a poster or holding a class on healthy eating satisfied current guidelines, but that was not adequate.

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- The Press

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