Department of Education

Healthy Food and Drink

Healthy Food and Drink

Healthy Food and Drink ‹ Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

  1. Fundraising activities
  2. Are there any food safety regulations I need to be aware of when cooking food at home for sale for fundraising activities?
  3. Do fundraising activities such as chocolate and lamington drives have to comply with the policy?
  4. Overview
  5. What are the basics of the Healthy Food and Drink policy?
  6. Where can I find the policy?
  7. Why do we need a policy for food services in schools?
  8. Product registration/Assessment
  9. Some schools experience difficulty with sourcing volunteers for school canteens. How can canteens get help with the policy?
  10. What help is available to schools in regional areas which may experience difficulty in accessing Star Choice registered? products (or their equivalents)?
  11. What if a product is not registered in the Star Choice Buyers' Guide?
  12. What information has been provided to schools?
  13. What resources are available?
  14. What support is available to help canteens implement the Healthy Food and Drink policy?
  15. What training is available?
  16. Where can food manufacturers find out about the minimum nutrient criteria for the registration of food and drinks?
  17. Putting the policy in place
  18. Are schools checked for using the policy?
  19. Can we supply full-fat milk products to students?
  20. Has taking the less healthier items off the menu meant canteen/food service profits go down?
  21. How do schools use the Healthy Food and Drink policy?
  22. How does the policy affect classroom rewards?
  23. How does the policy affect food suppliers?
  24. How does the policy affect the recipes used by canteens?
  25. How does the policy deal with the issue of additives in food?
  26. How does the policy deal with the issue of food allergies?
  27. How often can we serve foods and drinks in the AMBER category?
  28. What does 'artificially sweetened drinks' mean?
  29. What is confectionery?
  30. What types of drinks are the healthiest options for children and young people?
  31. Why are RED food and drinks restricted? Don't children need RED foods to meet extra energy requirements?
  32. What is happening at the national level and in other states?
  33. How does this policy relate to the guidelines for National Healthy School Canteens which were announced in March 2011?
  34. I have received a buyers' guide from NSW called "Healthy Kids' Products School Canteen Buyers' Guide". How does this guide fit in with the policy and the Star Choice Buyers' Guide?
  35. What are other states in Australia doing?
  36. What is not part of the policy?
  37. Are private schools be required to implement the policy?
  38. Can children bring birthday cakes to school to share with their classmates?
  39. How does StarCAP2 fit in with the policy?
  40. What areas are not in the policy?
  41. What's in the policy?
  42. Does the policy apply to any other areas?
  43. Does the policy apply to both primary and secondary public schools?
  44. What are AMBER foods and drinks?
  45. What are GREEN foods and drinks?
  46. What are RED foods and drinks?
  47. What does the policy say about foods and drinks sold in school canteens/food services?
  48. Who has to follow the policy?

Fundraising activities

Q: Are there any food safety regulations I need to be aware of when cooking food at home for sale for fundraising activities?
A: Yes. Schools and parents/caregivers should be aware of food safety in relation to selling food cooked from home. All food must be handled to ensure it is safe for sale; this includes preparation, cooking, storage and transportation. Hot savoury dishes are high risk foods compared with baked products such as cakes and biscuits, and need to be handled carefully. Contact the Western Australian Department of Health and your local council for more advice on food safety.

Note: Food cooked at home must not be sold in the canteen/food service.  Schools are to notify the local council prior to conducting a charitable or community event involving food (ie. a cake stall or sausage sizzle).

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Q: Do fundraising activities such as chocolate and lamington drives have to comply with the policy?
A: No. However, fundraising activities that promote health and wellbeing are encouraged. These could include seasonal fruits eg. mangoes, freeze dried fruits, toothbrushes, healthy food cookbooks, sun block, nursery products.

To help ensure foods used for fundraising activities are consistent with the Healthy Food and Drink policy schools can:

  • provide suggestions to P and C Associations/parents/caregivers of the types of products they wish to sell
  • include products that fall into the GREEN category in the list of suggestions (eg. scones, fruit salad)
  • provide recipes, including ideas on modifying recipes to make them healthier
  • suggest home cooked products such as cakes and slices be provided in small serving sizes
  • suggest home cooked products without adding extras such as jam, cream or ice-cream
  • provide information on food safety.

Links

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Overview

Q: What are the basics of the Healthy Food and Drink policy?
A: Food and drinks have been rated on how good they are for you, setting the standard for all food and drink sold in public school canteens/food services. The policy makes it clear what food can and cannot be sold in school canteens/food services because they meet the standard. Schools and food suppliers in Western Australia know these standards and the Star Choice system operated by the Western Australian School Canteen Association (WASCA)

WASCA uses the national Federation of Canteens in Schools (FOCiS) nutrient criteria to decide on what products are able to be registered in the Star Choice Buyer’s Guide. The FOCiS nutrient criteria are reviewed nationally by qualified health professionals, food technologists and food industry representatives.

Star Choice registered food and drinks are generally lower in fat, sugar and salt (and higher in fibre and calcium where relevant) than other products of that food type available in the market.

Links

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Q: Where can I find the policy?
A: The policy is located on Policies, the Department’s repository for all Departmental policies.  Everything you need to know has been provided as information to schools and parents/carers and on the website det.wa.edu.au/healthyfoodanddrink. Should you have any questions about the policy, please contact Policy branch on 9264 5077. Back to top
Q: Why do we need a policy for food services in schools?
A: Childhood obesity is a serious problem both within Western Australia and nationally. When children carry too much weight and are obese they face a greater risk of immediate and long-term health and behavioural problems. There has been a community call for us all to work together to help our children become more healthy and reduce their risk of suffering serious health problems later in life. Schools, canteens and other types of food services can support healthy lifestyle choices. Back to top

Product registration/Assessment

Q: Some schools experience difficulty with sourcing volunteers for school canteens. How can canteens get help with the policy?
A: WASCA is available to provide support and advice to all school canteens. WASCA is being funded to provide training and assistance to all canteens/food services and their employer, ie P and C representatives.

Assistance will be provided for canteen staff facing canteen management issues such as:

  • making food preparation more simple
  • where to get healthier foods
  • healthier food ideas
  • attracting and working with volunteers.
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Q: What help is available to schools in regional areas which may experience difficulty in accessing Star Choice registered? products (or their equivalents)?
A: Rural and regional areas can have difficulty in accessing healthier products. Canteens from different schools may be able to group together to increase their purchasing power – that is, buying in bulk to make foods cheaper. Back to top
Q: What if a product is not registered in the Star Choice Buyers' Guide?
A: If a product is not registered, WASCA can conduct an assessment to determine whether the food is able to be sold in canteens. Canteens are encouraged to use their networks to share information about products that are not registered in the Star Choice Buyers’ Guide but do meet the criteria for registration. Local dieticians and nutritionists are also available to provide advice on products. Back to top
Q: What information has been provided to schools?
A: Since 2007 schools have been sent information on the policy in the form of fact sheets, postcards, posters and booklets to support the policy’s implementation. Back to top
Q: What resources are available?
A: Information for parents, school and canteen staff has been developed so that consistent messages are provided to students about healthy eating. Sample menu planners, a website, poster, postcards, factsheets, booklets and a helpline all encourage a whole school approach to making healthy food and drink choices. Back to top
Q: What support is available to help canteens implement the Healthy Food and Drink policy?
A: Policy branch (phone 9264 5077) can provide advice on implementation of the policy.

WASCA has a range of resources and services available to help canteens such as the Star Choice Buyers’ Guide, advisory services and training courses. WASCA can be contacted on 9264 4999.

Links

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Q: What training is available?
A: Hands-on-training ‘traffic light’ is available to help schools develop menus which comply with the policy. ‘Traffic light’ training is also available online. WASCA is providing the training. Contact WASCA on 9264 4999 to find out when training is happening in your area.

FoodSafe Food Handler packages are available from Environmental Health Australia and some local councils. Many local councils also provide free online food safety training that is consistent with FoodSafe. Some schools have hosted morning teas for workers and volunteers to view the FoodSafe Food Handler training DVD and go through the simple questions in the workbook together.
 

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Q: Where can food manufacturers find out about the minimum nutrient criteria for the registration of food and drinks?
A: The Federation of Canteens in Schools (FOCiS) have developed the minimum nutrient criteria. The FOCiS criteria are reviewed nationally by qualified health professionals, food technologists and food industry representatives. Food and drink manufacturers can obtain further information on the minimum nutrient criteria and the registration process for food and drinks from:

WA Registration
PO Box 25 Hillarys 6923
Phone (08) 9264 4999
Fax (08) 9264 4981
Email wasca@education.wa.edu.au

Links

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Putting the policy in place

Q: Are schools checked for using the policy?
A: As part of the school review process, principals are required to report annually on how schools have put the policy in place. Schools are also required to report to parents each year ie through the school newsletter. Back to top
Q: Can we supply full-fat milk products to students?
A: Yes. Under the policy full-fat milk products are classified as AMBER products and should be selected carefully.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013), developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, recommends that the consumption of reduced fat milk products is encouraged in children over two years of age to reduce saturated fat intake. Full fat milk products should only be available when reduced fat products cannot be sourced.

Australian Dietary Guidelines http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n55f_children_brochure_1.pdf
 

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Q: Has taking the less healthier items off the menu meant canteen/food service profits go down?
A: No. Independent research by the University of Western Australia and Curtin University found this was not the case.

See Addressing Childhood Obesity through School Canteens.

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Q: How do schools use the Healthy Food and Drink policy?
A: The Western Australian School Canteen Association (WASCA) is available to help schools with this.

Schools are encouraged to have a small menu that:

  • has mostly foods from the GREEN category
  • changes frequently
  • has AMBER foods as ‘meal deals’ where they are sold with GREEN food and drink items.

Contact WASCA for sample menu planners and advice.

Links

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Q: How does the policy affect classroom rewards?
A: Food rewards provided to students must comply with the policy, including food vouchers. Activities and rewards consistent with the policy will also support the school curriculum. Rewarding with confectionery sends the wrong message and reinforces the RED foods, which are already being consumed frequently and excessively by children and young people.

Links

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Q: How does the policy affect food suppliers?
A: The food industry was involved in the development of the policy. The food industry, together with the rest of the community, is concerned about the rising levels of obesity in our children.

Schools can play a key role in improving children’s attitudes to healthy food and physical exercise. Clear messages about making healthy food and drink choices and the importance of physical activity are required. WA is a leader in promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for children.

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Q: How does the policy affect the recipes used by canteens?
A: Where canteens make food on the premises ie pikelets, muffins and lasagne, they are encouraged to use recipes that are lower in saturated fat and sugar. WASCA can provide recommended recipes for the most popular items and is available to provide advice to canteens on the recipes they are currently using.

Canteens are reminded that they should check with their local council to see what food preparation can be undertaken.

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Q: How does the policy deal with the issue of additives in food?
A: Additives must meet national standards set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The food sold in canteens will meet the national FOCiS nutrient criteria. The FOCiS criteria are reviewed nationally by qualified health professionals, food technologists and food industry representatives who are aware of the issues of additives in food.

The policy needs to be considered together with the Department’s Student Health Care policy and the Anaphylaxis Management Guidelines for Schools from the Department of Health.

Links

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Q: How does the policy deal with the issue of food allergies?
A: This policy needs to be considered together with the Department’s Student Health Care policy and the Department of Health's Anaphylaxis Management Guidelines in Schools www.health.wa.gov.au/anaphylaxis/docs/schools/11289%20SK13%20Guidelines.pdf

Schools are encouraged to establish “allergy friendly” or “peanut friendly” environments where risks are reduced to the extent possible but where all concerned recognise the need for ongoing vigilance.

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Q: How often can we serve foods and drinks in the AMBER category?
A: Savoury commercial products in the AMBER category of foods and drinks should be limited to 2 days per week. These products include (but are not limited to) reduced fat pastry items and pizza. Back to top
Q: What does 'artificially sweetened drinks' mean?
A: ‘Artificially sweetened drinks’ refers to drinks where an artificial sweetener, eg aspartame, has been added. Back to top
Q: What is confectionery?
A: Confectionery includes chocolates, carob and yoghurt based confectionery, and all types of lollies such as boiled lollies, cough lollies, liquorice, lollies made from fruit juice, and jelly lollies. All confectionery falls into the RED category.

Foods containing confectionery, such as chocolate chips, sprinkles and icing, cannot be registered and are therefore RED. The Star Choice Buyers’ Guide may help to determine whether or not a food falls into the AMBER category.

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Q: What types of drinks are the healthiest options for children and young people?
A: Water, reduced fat plain milk and reduced fat flavoured milks (in small serve sizes) are the healthiest drinks for children and young people and should be readily available and promoted in schools. Fruit juices and fruit drinks are high in acid and can contribute to tooth decay if consumed regularly. Back to top
Q: Why are RED food and drinks restricted? Don't children need RED foods to meet extra energy requirements?
A: The Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013) recommends that children meet their higher nutrient needs by eating more foods from the five food groups: cereals (including breads, rice, pasta, noodles); vegetables and legumes; fruit; and milk, cheese, yoghurt and alternatives, and meat and meat alternatives.

‘Extra foods’ should be included only sometimes and in small amounts.

Dietary surveys show that young people are not consuming the recommended amounts or variety of foods from the five food groups. Instead, approximately six serves of ‘extra’ foods are being consumed every day, contributing to excess energy, fat, sugar and salt, and insufficient essential nutrients needed for growth and development.

There are ample opportunities to consume 'extra' or 'red' foods and drinks outside of school.

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What is happening at the national level and in other states?

Q: How does this policy relate to the guidelines for National Healthy School Canteens which were announced in March 2011?
A: The Australian Government developed guidelines for National Healthy School Canteens. Implementation of the guidelines is not mandatory. The guidelines were considered during the 2013 review of the Healthy Food and Drink policy. Back to top
Q: I have received a buyers' guide from NSW called "Healthy Kids' Products School Canteen Buyers' Guide". How does this guide fit in with the policy and the Star Choice Buyers' Guide?
A: The food and drink in the NSW Healthy Kids’ Products School Canteen Buyers’ Guide are not based on the same minimum nutrient criteria as the food and drink in the Star Choice Buyers’ Guide. The Star Choice Buyers’ Guide is the correct guide for Western Australian schools to use and is the guide referred to in the Healthy Food and Drink policy. Back to top
Q: What are other states in Australia doing?
A: Most Australian states and territories have adopted nutrition standards which apply to school food services.  The nutrition standards vary between jurisdictions. Back to top

What is not part of the policy?

Q: Are private schools be required to implement the policy?
A: Even though implementation of the Department of Education's Healthy Food and Drink policy is not mandatory in private schools, these schools are encouraged to implement the policy and model healthy eating practices in their settings. Back to top
Q: Can children bring birthday cakes to school to share with their classmates?
A: Yes, birthday cakes may still be brought to school on a child’s birthday. However, please confirm this with your child's classroom teacher. The policy only applies to food and drink supplied by the school. Small serving sizes are encouraged. Back to top
Q: How does StarCAP2 fit in with the policy?
A: StarCAP2 is a voluntary accreditation program which awards schools operating healthy canteens by using a star rating. StarCAP2 is a separate program that is consistent with the policy. For information on StarCAP2, contact the Western Australian School Canteen Association www.waschoolcanteens.org.au Back to top
Q: What areas are not in the policy?
A: Areas where the principal is not directly responsible for food supply are not part of the policy, for example, fundraising by the P and C.  Many P and Cs have, in an effort to promote consistent messages, adopted the policy.  This is encouraged. Back to top

What's in the policy?

Q: Does the policy apply to any other areas?
A: The policy also applies to areas in the school where the principal is directly responsible for the supply of food and drinks, for example:
  • classroom rewards
  • class cooking activities
  • school camps
  • school excursions.
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Q: Does the policy apply to both primary and secondary public schools?
A: Yes. The policy is mandatory for all public schools in Western Australia. Back to top
Q: What are AMBER foods and drinks?
A: AmberCanteen/food service menus should not be dominated by these foods and drinks. They should be limited and chosen carefully. Large serving sizes should not be used.

Examples include (but are not limited to):
Refined cereals with added sugars, full fat dairy foods and commercial products such as Star Choice registered pastry items, snack food bars, ice-creams, cakes, muffins and fruit juice (>99%,no added sugar, in small sizes).

Food and drinks that have not been registered in the Star Choice Buyers’ Guide may be used if they meet the minimum nutrient criteria for registration.

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Q: What are GREEN foods and drinks?
A: GreenThese foods/drinks should be encouraged and promoted and they should fill the canteen/food service menu.

In general these foods/drinks:

  • are excellent sources of important nutrients
  • are low in saturated fat and/or added sugar and/or salt
  • help to avoid an intake of excess energy (kilojoules).

Examples include (but are not limited to): Fruit (fresh, canned, frozen and dried), vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, reduced fat dairy products such as plain milk (all sizes), flavoured milk (small sizes), yoghurt and cheese, lean meats, fish and chicken, eggs and plain water.

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Q: What are RED foods and drinks?
A: RedThese are called ‘extra foods’ in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. They must not be offered in schools because they:
  • lack adequate nutritional value
  • are high in saturated fat, and/or added sugar and/or salt
  • can contribute excess energy (kilojoule)
  • can contribute to tooth decay and erosion.

Examples include (but are not limited to):
Soft drinks, confectionary, deep fried foods and other items such as chips, chocolate coated ice-creams, cakes and muffins that do not meet the criteria for registration.

All RED food and drink must be off canteen/food service menus.

Students can eat these foods and drinks outside of school under the supervision of their parents.

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Q: What does the policy say about foods and drinks sold in school canteens/food services?
A: The policy sets out whether a food/drink should be eaten most of the time, some of the time or only eaten outside of school with parents’ approval. To make this clear, the policy uses a ‘traffic light’ system, similar to that used in other states where foods/drinks are categorised as GREEN, AMBER or RED. Back to top
Q: Who has to follow the policy?
A: The policy applies to all public school canteens and food services provided in place of a canteen. This includes:
  • school canteens managed by Parents and Citizens’Associations (P and Cs)
  • school canteens contracted by the school
  • breakfast programs provided at the school
  • any onsite vending machines available to students
  • food services provided by local shops in place of a canteen service.
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Frequently asked questions
http://www.det.wa.edu.au/healthyfoodanddrink/detcms/navigation/frequently-asked-questions/

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