Oliver slams new school food review

Jamie Oliver has hit out at a fresh review into school dinners, warning it is time for action and not more "costly reports".

The TV chef said he feared that the Government-commissioned inquiry is "destined to be ignored" by ministers.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, the men behind the Leon restaurant chain, are to lead a review into food in England's schools. It comes amid concerns that many youngsters are still being served unhealthy meals, and that more needs to be done to boost food standards in all schools.

Oliver, who led a campaign seven years ago to improve school lunches, raised concerns that ministers are dragging their feet over taking action.

He said he was confident that Mr Dimbleby and Mr Vincent will do a "thorough job" on the review. But he added: "Now is not the time for more costly reports. Now is the time for action and that doesn't seem to be what we get from Mr Gove when it comes to school food and food education. This just delays action for another year or more."

Oliver said it was "ironic" that the Education Secretary had announced the review at a school with a kitchen garden that has a dedicated caterer making fresh meals on-site: "This simply does not reflect the current resource and reality in most schools around the country. I believe these things urgently need to be the norm in schools - along with support for good school food and further training in the school food service.

"I'm fairly confident that the gentlemen from Leon will end up pushing for the same things that I, and many others, have been pushing for years, but the question is, will Mr Gove listen? Will he finally do anything about the problems in school food?"

The new review, which was welcomed by campaigners, will investigate school dinners across the country, and establish an "action plan" on how all schools can improve food standards. It will involve looking at the factors which influence the choices schools make about food, the Department for Education said.

Mr Gove said: "There has been an improvement in school food in recent years, with many schools transforming school dinners, introducing food-growing into the curriculum and teaching cookery. However, there is still more to do, particularly in taking localised successes and ensuring they are replicated nationally."

According to School Food Trust research, primary age children now eat an average of 1.6 portions of fruit and vegetables in their school lunch, with 35% consuming at least two portions. In secondary schools, pupils eat an average of 0.8 portions of fruit and vegetables at lunchtime.