Ham and cheese toasties banned from sale at school canteens in Western Australia

The humble ham and cheese sandwich has been added to the food list in school canteens, meaning children can no longer order this much-loved lunch favourite.

A review of Western Australia’s school food and drink rules has come into effect weeks after controversial recommendations effectively banning ham were passed to schools in December.

Under the new rules, ham is now considered β€œred” in the traffic light classification of cafeteria items sold to students statewide.

Since 2007, canteen menu items have been labeled green for nutritious, orange for incidental, while red items such as chips, lollipops and other junk food are not allowed for sale.

Ham and cheese sandwiches were previously rated as green, while a regular ham sandwich was classified as amber – eaten in moderation, but still allowed to be sold every day.

Changes to school food and drink rules in Western Australia have come into play since recommendations were made to schools in December, effectively banning ham

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The new system has rated ham as red, effectively removing it from canteen menus altogether.

There is an exception for a number of expensive low-fat and low-salt products, limited to two days a week.

According to a new online ‘food checker’ tool for canteens, there are now no fewer than 20 ham products that have been rated red and may no longer be marketed.

Only three ham products fall into the ‘selected red’ category, which means they meet strict nutritional standards and can be sold two days a week.

WA School Canteen Association chief executive Megan Sauzier said she understood the reasoning behind the decision, but believes the decision is not in the best interests of schools.

She believes it is unrealistic for canteens to do away with ham and cheese sandwiches, as they were perfectly part of an overall diet of healthy eating.

‘We have already made a lot of progress because schools don’t have salami and mortadella, and we don’t have fried chips, we don’t have soft drinks, we don’t have confectionery – should we get rid of ham too? ? I’m not sure,” she said The Western Australia.

Western Australian students can't order the simple ham and cheese sandwich (stock photo)

Western Australian students can’t order the simple ham and cheese sandwich (stock photo)

The changes have also seen sausage rolls and pies, including the previously amber reduced fat versions, and oven-baked wedges reclassified as ‘selected red items’.

In addition, all cakes and cookies have gone from amber to red, while full-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese have gone the other way: from amber to green.

Ms Sauzier called for a longer transition period as the changes caused confusion among suppliers and canteen staff.

She thinks some changes have been positive, such as changing full-fat dairy from amber to green, because it’s based on the latest health data.

But there are concerns about other products, such as fruit juice slushies that are now red but the unfrozen form is still amber.

Some flavored waters went from red to green.

According to a fact sheet from the Western Australia Health Department, the new school food and drink rules started at the start of the first term, but schools were not given a deadline for their implementation.

Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Education Jim Bell said The Western Australia some amber foods are now red.

‘However, this does not mean a ban on these reclassified foods. β€œIt indicates that healthier choices can be made, although these foods can still be sold as long as the menu still consists of 60 percent of foods rated as green,” he said.

Ham and cheese sandwiches were previously rated green in school canteens in WA, but have since been banned

Ham and cheese sandwiches were previously rated green in school canteens in WA, but have since been banned

Mr Bell added that schools should consult parents to find out what foods everyone is comfortable having on the menu.

He said the new policy aims to help canteens promote healthy options without restricting popular items or jeopardizing a school’s bottom line.

Fresh School Nutrition Advisory Program manager Aisling Pawlowski said the reclassifications were in line with Australian Dietary Guidelines and international evidence.

‘Announcing any change can be challenging and cause concern. However, thanks to funding from the WA Department of Health, FreshSNAP is available to all school canteens to support them in implementing the required changes,” she said.

Although the revision has sparked outrage among parents, the new rules could be a step in the right direction as consuming too much processed meat, such as ham, has been proven to increase the risk of bowel cancer.