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School Milk

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 8 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will make a statement on his policy concerning the provision of whole milk for drinking in schools; (74792)

(2) what assessment he has made of the relative nutritional benefits to school children of drinking skimmed milk, semi-skimmed milk and whole milk; and if he will make a statement.

Local authorities are not obliged to provide milk, but where they do so they must provide it free of charge to pupils entitled to receive a free school lunch. Local authorities decide whether or not to provide whole milk. They are also free to make use of the EU School Milk Subsidy Scheme, which reduces the cost of whole milk and semi-skimmed milk purchased. The new nutritional standards in schools, announced on 19 May 2006, stipulate that only semi-skimmed and skimmed milk should be made available in schools.

The advice of the School Meals Review Panel and the School Food Trust was that only very young children require full-fat milk as part of their diet; and that once children are at school, semi-skimmed and skimmed versions of milk are entirely adequate. This approach reflects current nutrition advice, which is based on advice from the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (now replaced by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) who considered this issue in relation to cardiovascular disease. Current advice highlights the important role that milk and dairy products play in children’s diets, particularly their contribution to children’s calcium intake; and states that school-aged children should have the opportunity to choose lower fat versions of milk as these contain at least the same amount of calcium as whole milk, but less fat.