29 March 2007
Classification System Helps Schools Make Better Nutritional Choices
The Ministry of Health’s mission to promote healthy eating in schools and early childhood education (ECE) services was
boosted today with the release of the Food and Beverage Classification System Framework.
Aimed at helping New Zealand children make healthier at-school choices everyday, the Food and Beverage Classification
System Framework was sent to all schools and ECEs, along with the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) Food and Nutrition for
Healthy, Confident Kids guidelines which detail the approach that schools and ECEs should take to improve food and
The Ministry of Health’s Deputy Director General, Dr Don Matheson, said the Framework worked in tandem with the MoE’s
guidelines to set out healthy food and beverage options for children aged three months to 18 years.
“The research is clear that young people’s food choices can affect their health, as well as their learning and behaviour
at school,” said Dr Matheson.
“The Ministry of Health supports the MoE in its mission to encourage well-nourished young people who are ready to learn
by helping schools and ECEs choose food and beverages that are low in fat, sugar and salt.
“The Food and Beverage Classification System will also give teachers, canteen managers and those involved in helping
children eat more healthily a say in how it’s done,” he said.
The Framework sets out the intent of the full Food and Beverage Classification System which is still being finalised. It
will be launched in June 2007.
The Food and Beverage Classification System assists educational institutions to implement the MoE’s guidelines by
identifying foods and beverages that are:
- For consumption every day, such as sandwiches, rolls, yoghurt, vegetables and fruit, as well as water and low-fat milk
- For consumption sometimes, such as pizza, muffins and macaroni cheese, and
- For consumption occasionally (eg once a term), such as pies, sausage rolls, chocolate bars and deep-fried foods, such
Dr Matheson said support and training packages to schools and ECEs were being offered to help implement the twin
“This is not about labelling or a vehicle to inspect children’s lunchboxes. These are useful tools to help schools and
ECE services encourage New Zealand children to make healthier choices every day.”
Both the Food and Beverage Classification System and the Food and Nutrition for Healthy, Confident Kids guidelines are
part of the government’s ‘Mission On’ package announced last year to encourage young New Zealanders to improve nutrition
and increase physical activity.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What is the Food and Beverage Classification System?
The Food and Beverage Classification system is a practical tool for schools and early childhood education (ECE)
services, which identifies healthy food and beverage options for children aged three months to 18 years.
It sets out healthy options for people involved in selecting food and beverages for catered meals, tuck shops/canteens,
vending machines, sponsorship deals, fund-raiser events and rewards.
What are the Ministry of Education’s Food and Nutrition for Healthy, Confident Kids guidelines?
Another practical tool which focuses on encouraging schools and ECEs to adopt health promotion approaches to
establishing or improving their food environments. An environment which supports healthy food and beverage choices
encourages healthy lifestyles.
The guidelines will also help teachers to plan programmes that encourage students to explore the significance of food in
How will the Food and Beverage Classification System and the MoE’s guidelines fit together?
The Ministry of Health’s Food and Beverage Classification System works in tandem with the MoE’s Food and Nutrition for
Healthy, Confident Kids guidelines – ie the Food and Beverage Classification System helps schools and ECEs to implement
the MoE’s guidelines by identifying foods and beverages that are for everyday consumption, for consumption sometimes and
for occasional consumption.
Why do schools and early childhood education services need the Food and Beverage Classification System, and the MoE’s
The government is keen to encourage schools and ECEs to provide an environment where students learn to make consistently
healthy food choices. Education settings provide numerous and diverse opportunities for children and young people to
make decisions about food, so it is important that these environments are structured to promote healthy eating.
Research is clear that young people’s food choices can affect their health, as well as their learning and behaviour at
school. Therefore, policies about what is sold or served in schools and ECEs can help ensure that healthy choices are
Many schools and ECEs are already aware of the important links between food, health and learning and are taking steps to
improve the food and nutrition environment.
Why are you releasing the Food and Beverage Classification System in two stages – ie the Framework in late March and
then the full System in June?
To enable schools to fully comprehend the many aspects of the System, and to plan for the System’s full implementation.
Will the Food and Beverage Classification System feature brand names? If not, why not?
The System may well feature brand names in future.
How will the Food and Beverage Classification System and the MoE’s guidelines impact on producers – particularly small
providers like local bakeries, etc – who supply products to school tuck shops and canteens?
There will be opportunities for some producers who are responsible for making food and beverages in the ‘everyday’
category, while those producers whose food and beverages fall into the ‘occasional’ category may wish to reduce the fat,
sugar and salt components of their products.
How will the Ministries of Education and Health ensure that the guidelines and Classification System are implemented in
schools and ECEs?
Both Ministries will work closely with schools and ECEs on implementing these tools.
What kind of training and support is being offered to schools and ECEs to help implement these changes?
The Ministries of Health and Education are providing training programmes to help support schools and ECEs implement
What is the Healthy Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) Strategy?
Healthy Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) is the government’s strategic approach to improving nutrition, increasing physical
activity, reducing obesity and achieving a healthy weight for all New Zealanders.
HEHA is the umbrella strategy that aims to engage and initiate a range of cross-government programmes within schools,
ECEs, workplaces and communities around New Zealand.
The aim of the HEHA strategy is an environment and society where individuals, families, whanau and communities are
supported to eat well, live physically active lives, and attain and maintain a healthy body weight.
What are some examples of HEHA initiatives?
More than 45 actions are already under way, including the Fruit in Schools programme, the Nutrition Fund, the Baby
Friendly Hospital Initiative and Mission On. For further information about these programmes, refer to the Ministry of
Health’s website – www.moh.govt.nz/healthyeatinghealthyaction
What is Mission On?
Mission On is a broad-based package of 10 initiatives aimed at giving young New Zealanders and their families the tools
to improve their nutrition and increase physical activity. The initiatives will be delivered through SPARC and the
Ministries of Education and Health, and builds on existing cross-government programmes within schools, ECEs and
communities around New Zealand.