Gove's nutrition policy risks child health, says Jamie Oliver

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The Independent Online

Jamie Oliver has warned Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, that his school meals policies are endangering children's health.

The celebrity chef is incensed by the Government's decision to exempt academies and free schools from the minimum nutritional standards covering the rest of the state education service in England. As a result, Oliver says, academies have installed vending machines selling sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks banned in other schools.

Mr Gove's decision stems from his philosophy of allowing free schools and academies to run their own affairs free from bureaucratic interference. However, in an interview with The Observer yesterday. Oliver said: "This mantra that we are not going to tell [academy] schools what to do just isn't good enough in the midst of the biggest obesity epidemic ever. The public health of five million children should not be left to luck or chance."

In addition to the chef's comments, 54 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling on the Government to change its stance on the issue. About half of the secondary schools in England are either academies, or are planning to become academies.

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