Lancashire County Council’s School and Residential Care Catering group has been awarded the prestigious SUGARWISE Catering Mark, in recognition of the healthy menu options it serves in schools throughout the week.
The SUGARWISE catering mark gives assurance to parents and carers that the menu provides options that are low in free sugars.
These are sugars and sugar-based sweeteners that need to be limited in the diet because they contribute to childhood obesity and tooth decay.
Only meals that have the SUGARWISE reduced sugar accreditation will be provided on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in schools. SUGARWISE options will also be menu options on Mondays and Fridays, meaning that children and young people have the choice available to them every day of the week.
These rigorous standards have been applied to ensure that children and young people will receive no more than 5% of their calories from free sugars from their school lunch. This is to align with public health advice and to reinforce the commitment of the county council to positively influence the food choices available in schools.
Free sugar is defined as any sugar added to a food or drink, or the sugar that is already in honey, syrup and fruit juice. They’re called free sugars because they’re not inside the cells of the food we eat. Free sugars don’t include those naturally present in milk and milk products and the sugars in the cellular structure of foods. Products on which the SUGARWISE logo appears have been independently assessed to be low in free sugars.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health for Lancashire, said: “Public Health England statistics show that one-third of UK children aged two to 15 – almost four million people – are now categorised as overweight or obese. One of the reasons given for this epidemic is because of the high intake of sugar children consume. If the trend of high sugar consumption is to continue, it will lead to further increases in diabetes, obesity, tooth decay and other related illnesses.
“SUGARWISE certification of our school meals is a positive and pragmatic means of addressing this challenge. We are demonstrating our commitment to doing what we can in reducing sugar intake in children and showing that we are serious about following public health guidelines in our schools.”
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, Cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “We have been leading the way in reducing sugar in our school meals. For a while now, we’ve been re-thinking many of our dishes, looking at ingredients and techniques to see how we can continue to produce tasty meals that pupils want to eat while reducing the added sugar.
“Whenever pupils see the label they will know that the product it appears on is guaranteed to be low in any of the sugars or sweeteners they need to worry about.
“Although I’m delighted that our menus and recipes are now being certified by SUGARWISE, and that we continue to demonstrate our ongoing commitment of reducing sugar intake in the children and young people we feed, we won’t rest on our laurels.”
Lancashire County Council’s School and Residential Care Catering group already holds the Soil Association’s prestigious Silver Food for Life Catering Mark, in recognition of the fresh and healthy meals it serves in schools and care homes. It is also recognised by Hospitality Assured as providing customers with a world class service.
The group also won the national Local Authority Caterer of the Year 2019 category, at the EDUcatering Excellence Awards.
More information about SUGARWISE is available at sugarwise.org.