Kelly pledges new rules to tackle 'scandal' of junk food in schools
VENDING machines dispensing junk food are to be banned in schools across England after Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, pledged to tackle the "scandal" of children's diets.
As obesity among youngsters increases, ministers have raised the amount to be spent on school meals. And Ms Kelly told Labour's conference that cheap processed sausages and burgers would be banned in schools from next September.
Westminster is following Scotland in revamping menus to make them healthier; Jack McConnell, the First Minister, has already pledged to ban junk food from school vending machines.
Schools in England that had previously tried to rid their machines of crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks had been warned that they risked breaching their contractual obligations with manufacturers.
Despite some reluctance from headteachers, who warned any ban would simply lead to children smuggling junk food into their lunch boxes instead, Ms Kelly yesterday vowed to push through the changes by next year. "I am absolutely clear: the scandal of junk food served every day in school canteens must end," she said.
Tougher new rules will be brought in, limiting the amount of sugar, fat and salt in school meals, but the move will require fresh legislation. Vending machines will be stocked with milk, bottled water and fresh fruit if the changes are approved.
The government promised to improve the quality of school meals after a high-profile campaign by TV chef Jamie Oliver.
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