Nutritional standards for school food welcomed by LMC

Nutritional standards for school food welcomed by LMC

The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC) has welcomed the recently launched consultation from the Department of Education seeking views on a proposed update to nutritional standards for school food in Northern Ireland.

Colin Smith, LMC industry development manager.

The purpose of the consultation is to allow schools reflect current government guidance on healthy eating with proposed changes on limiting the availability of processed red meat to once per week in primary schools and twice a week in secondary schools. Other proposals suggest meat or chicken products are to be made available only at lunchtime.

Ian Stevenson, chief executive at LMC said: “It is encouraging to see that the nutrition of children across Northern Ireland is being placed at the forefront. We will be seeking to ensure that the Department of Education recognises the critical role of beef and lamb as part of a healthy balanced diet.”

“Beef and lamb play a vital role in providing young people with the protein required for growth and repair, as well as Vitamin B12 and Zinc, required for optimum brain development and neural functioning. Without these important nutrients, there is potential for nutritional deficiency and compromised education during an important life stage. It is important that we lead our future generation by example and show them what a healthy balanced diet looks like from an early age.”

“…it is important to highlight that confusion must not be made between fresh cuts of unprocessed beef and lamb and processed red meat.”

LMC’s industry development manager, Colin Smith confirmed that the Commission will be highlighting the concerning statistic reported in the 2019 National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) time trend analyses report that there are over 57% of girls aged 11 to 18 years with iron intakes below the lower reference nutrient intake (LRNI).

“Nutritional decisions should not be taken lightly nor be simply based on a single demographic; in this case the red and processed meat intake of boys aged 11-18 as shown in the NDNS data.

“Research published by NDNS has shown the largest yearly reduction in iron intake is amongst girls aged 4 to 18 years old. Iron intake below the Reference Nutrient Intake level may result in iron-deficiency anaemia and low iron stores amongst this demographic which can contribute to fatigue, confusion, headache and respiratory problems. It is imperative that school meals include beef and lamb to ensure that we are providing pupils with a healthy balanced nutritious diet.

“Finally, it is important to highlight that confusion must not be made between fresh cuts of unprocessed beef and lamb and processed red meat. This should also be taken into consideration when referencing and reporting on the consultation to avoid misinformation.”

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