Schools slash orders for chips and processed food

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The Jamie Oliver effect is sweeping British schools. Figures released today show school canteens are cutting orders for chips, chocolate and frozen turkey, while healthy choices, such as yoghurt and vegetables, have seen a sharp increase in sales.

The Jamie Oliver effect is sweeping British schools. Figures released today show school canteens are cutting orders for chips, chocolate and frozen turkey, while healthy choices, such as yoghurt and vegetables, have seen a sharp increase in sales.

The celebrity chef scored an unlikely but triumphant success with his Channel 4 television series Jamie's School Dinners, which exposed the poor quality of food in school lunches, and forced the Government to promise an additional £280m investment.

In Jamie's School Dinners Oliver declared war on processed products such as "turkey dinosaurs", "fish rockets" and the infamous "Turkey Twizzler", made by Bernard Matthews from water, rusk, pork fat and ­ one-third ­ mechanically recovered meat.

The series and Oliver's Feed Me Better campaign was credited with a reduction in the quantity of fatty and unhealthy foods supplied to schools by catering firms. Figures from a national survey showed that sales of frozen chips are down by £521,000 from last year. Frozen turkey sales fell by £463,000. Frozen burgers and sausage rolls were down by about £150,000. And chocolate sales dropped by £267,000, according to the figures.

In contrast yoghurt, chilled fruit and vegetables and natural frozen fish had increased in popularity. Eleni Nicholas, the managing director of ACNielsen UK, the marketing consultancy that conducted the research, said: "Following a year of constant media interest in health and obesity in children ... the sector has already begun to re-evaluate what is being served."

Only 45p per child is spent on primary school meals. With the pledged £280m, this will rise to at least 50p in primary schools and 60p for secondary dinners ­ although nutritionists warn the money could end up spent on expensive processed food rather than cheap processed food.

Jamie's School Dinners appears to have hit a raw nerve. The wife of the Prime Minister, Cherie Blair, said recently she was considering packed lunches for her youngest son, Leo, saying that the quality of food on offer at his school was "not terrific".

Following the series, Compass, the catering firm, banned Turkey Twizzlers from thousands of the schools it serves. The public reaction has been rather different. While Oliver threatened to "send a bomb" to the factory of Bernard Matthews, the manufacturer, the company has reported a huge rise in sales.

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