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Chips and salt are off school menus

New cantine rules aim to improve quality of meals by using more vegetables, salads, milk and fruit

CHIPS, salt and ketchup are vanishing from the school dinner for six million children across France as a new decree on school meals comes into force.

Aiming to improve the nutritional quality of the meals served, it specifies that four or five courses should be offered, including one with vegetables and one with milk products.

Water and bread will be freely available but salt and sauces such as ketchup, mayonnaise and vinaigrette will not, except where part of a dish. Chips will be served in no more than four meals in 20 and fatty foods will be reduced.

The decree was published in the Journal officiel yesterday and agriculture and food minister Bruno Le Maire told newspaper Journal du Dimanche the changes were introduced because “nutritional rules were not being applied or controlled”.

He added: “Six million children eat in canteens every day, but one in two of them is still hungry when they leave.”

Le Maire said there would be more milk products, salads and vegetables, more fruit for dessert, as little fried food as possible and a balance between meat and fish during the week. “France should be an example to the world in the quality of its food, starting with its children.”

Main parents’ group FCPE told Le Monde that they welcomed the publication of the decree, but added that it had been “promised for a year”. President Jacques Hazan said it was a “victory” after “several years of trying to get regulations on the nutritional balance of school meals”.

School kitchens which serve fewer than 80 meals a day have until September 2012 to meet the new rules, which were made official a month after the new school year started, on September 5.

School kitchen managers will have to keep a register over three months of the meals offered, what they contained and the documentation that came with the produce.

Related story:
Children excluded from canteens

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