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Friday 29 August 2014

Ruairi Quinn urged to tackle sale of junk food in schools

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 11/02/2014 | 02:30

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Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has come under pressure from a cabinet colleague to tackle the widespread availability of junk food in secondary schools.

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Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the contractual arrangements between schools and firms that supply confectionery products should be examined.

Ms Fitzgerald was reacting to revelations that one-third of Irish secondary schools are selling sweets and fizzy drinks.

BAN

Although refusing to call for a ban on the sale of junk food in schools, Ms Fitzgerald called on Mr Quinn to examine the arrangements agreed with companies.

"I fully support the campaign to have healthy food in our schools, that's the direction we should be going. I've campaigned on this previously. Clearly, some schools have entered into contracts with various firms so the contents of the machines are what they are," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"I don't think it's a question of banning, I think it's a question again of moving in the direction of healthy food in schools and it is a priority so that our young people have choice when they go to school."

Research published by the Department of Education shows 310 secondary schools sell fizzy drinks, crisps and sweets from tuckshops or vending machines.

Mr Quinn is today to publish guidelines on the best use of vending machines and tuckshops in schools.

A spokeswoman for Mr Quinn said he would "happily" accept advice or hold discussions with Ms Fitzgerald on junk food being sold in schools.

"Frances will be aware, as will any other cabinet minister, our role is really to advise schools how best to implement healthy-eating policy and inform students," the spokeswoman said.

Irish Independent

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