Custard’s last stand: Shetland defiant on school menus

Shetland Isles not following Aberdeenshire Council's decision to cut custard and ice cream from school menus.

Custard’s last stand: Shetland defiant on school menus iStock

Schools in Shetland have no plans to follow Aberdeenshire Council’s lead in cutting ice cream and custard from their menus.

It was revealed this week that Aberdeenshire Council was replacing those items with alternatives, citing new government guidance on healthy eating.

But it has not been a popular move, with primary children starting a petition against the decision.

Shetland Islands Council’s catering team leader Neil Beattie said ice cream and custard are served up just once each in the current four-week menu cycle in local schools, with fruit and natural yoghurt more often offered to children.

Meanwhile, 94% of food served up in Shetland schools is freshly prepared in the canteen.

Aberdeenshire’s decision comes following new Scottish Government guidance on school meals, which aims to increase access to fruit and vegetables, reduce the amount of sugar in food and bring provision of red processed meat in line with national dietary goals.

But Beattie said current school menus in Shetland were designed with these regulations in mind, meaning there should not be any items being removed any time soon.

A couple of years ago Shetland Islands Council moved to a standardised menu that applies to schools across the isles.

“With the new government regulations coming in, all local authorities have had to reanalyse or remake menus to ensure compliance,” Beattie said.

“On our current menu cycle we have two days with traditional desserts every week, with ice cream and custard both appearing once in the four-week cycle, on the other days we serve natural yoghurt and fruit as dessert.

“We are busy working on our menus for next year and hope to be able to continue to provide the same types of food that are popular.

“When we updated our menus for this academic year we made them with the new guidelines in mind, so there shouldn’t be any dishes or products that we will be changing due to the new regulations.”

Beattie said the new guidelines are aimed at improving children’s health through better nutrition, “and we will, of course, comply with the national standards”.

“We are currently going through our Food for Life accreditation and when our current menu was analysed by the soil association, it showed that 94% of our meals were freshly prepared in the school canteens.

“We are incredibly proud of this figure and the work our catering staff do every day to ensure the health and wellbeing of the children.”

Story by local democracy reporter Chris Cope

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