Education Minister Says Teachers Can Confiscate, Keep Or Destroy Unhealthy Lunchbox Items

1 July 2015

Should teachers confiscate unhealthy food

Remember the Essex school which banned kids from bringing unhealthy food into school in their lunch boxes?

The Department of Education has waded into the debate and ruled that schools CAN confiscate items of food from children's lunch boxes, if they contravene a healthy eating policy.

The Daily Mail reports:

"Teachers are free to take any item from pupils' lunchboxes if they think they are unhealthy or inappropriate, the government has said."

"Now ministers have backed the move, giving staff freedom to 'confiscate, keep or destroy' anything deemed to break school policies and setting out the procedure for carrying out lunchbox inspections."

The government's education minister has advised schools to talk to parents about the healthy eating policy, but says teachers may carry out lunchbox inspections to check for unhealthy food items. If an item of unhealthy food is a found in a child's lunch box - in breach of the school's healthy eating policy - staff then have the right to confiscate, keep or destroy the item.

It's bonkers, if you ask me. How on earth are schools going to determine what counts as an item of healthy food, and what does not? My kids take a fruit smoothie to school every day - which I know contains a considerable quantity of sugar - but I offset that against the fact that they'd sooner down one of those than eat a tub of grapes which will have been getting gradually warmer in a lunchbox kept in a stuff classroom all day.

Where will teachers draw the line? And how on earth does it make any sense to adopt a healthy eating policy at the same time as potentially wasting food by 'destroying' perfectly edible items which are deemed inappropriate?

I'd be livid if my child came home from school and said they'd had an item removed from their lunch box and destroyed. Confiscating food and returning it at home time is one thing - keeping it or destroying is a step too far.

But what's your view? Come and tell us over on our Facebook page.

TOPICS:   Parenting Tips


  • GibsonSt19
    Subjective much? What if a child eats healthily outside of school hours, and their parents (for balance, as well as convenience) send their child to school with foodstuffs which could potentially, on a subjective basis, be considered healthy. What's it got to do with the teacher what they're eating? Surely parents should be those deciding what a child eats or doesn't eat? After all, they're parents. If some parents are sending their children to school with nothing but trash (and potentially feeding them the same sort of trash at home), surely it's the parents who need educating, and not the lunchboxes in need of policing?! My better half is a teacher, and is already exhausted from the myriad of additional duties required of her aside from teaching. I can't see teachers signing up to this without a fight, and legitimately so. Can you hear that sound? That dull thudding sound? That's George Orwell in his grave, repeatedly smacking his head in disbelief that big brother is now earmarked for the policing of crisps! This is, of course, only my humble opinion.
  • Annaliesey
    I suspect this is all about money and just dressed up as a health concern. I have opted for both my children to always have packed lunches rather than awful school meals. Schools and government just want more fee paying customers as there is such a high percentage of "free"school dinners! What about the kids that have "free" school meals that go up for 2,3 or 4 helpings of puddings? What about the kids that have a cheese sandwich rushed up by the cook because they have run out of food? Maybe they should get their own houses in order before criticising packed lunch parents in an effort to drum up more funds
  • Kerriadams
    I recently swapped my 6 yr old son from school dinners back to packed lunches because he was gaining weight. One day he ate a sandwich, potatoes, and noodles for his main course with a jam donut for dessert! Whilst schools are allowing young children to make these ridiculous choices without double checking that what they've chosen is balanced, I don't think they have any business playing 'lunch box police.' He now eats a sandwich, yoghurt, a mixture of salad and fruit items and sometimes crisps for lunch. I once gave him a small (hollow) chocolate egg as a Friday treat in his lunch box. School criticised me for it...I explained that it contained significantly fewer calories, fat, sugar and salt than the donuts, cakes, biscuits and crumbles they were serving him and that if I felt it was appropriate to give him a small treat in an otherwise balanced lunch then that's what I would do. They haven't complained since!!
  • Susiearmstrong
    Absolute nonesense. Parents will decide what THEIR children will and should eat. That shouldn't be nobody else's business. It's getting alsolutey disgusting how much people will think they have a right to make decisions for you or your children. There is no way to control this as children can just eat rubbish at home again so keep your noses out and let's have the Parents make the decision.
  • happy82
    I work in a school and you would t believe what done kids come in with bottles of coke or iron bru ! I think a teacher or lunchtime assistant has good reason to take these types of things of them , how can a teacher expect to teach a child that's had that at lunch ? Of course you need to realistic about it and kids are always going to have there little treats . Personally I think it's about educating patrents as much as children in some cases. If parents are sensible about what goes in then no one should mind having their lunches looked at . School lunches aren't always completely heathy with cakes and chips and burgers but they are balanced . I think people struggle with ideas one hat to put in so always end up with sandwich crisis and choc maybe some fruit , maybe some ideas from a school to give parents idea would've a good idea ??
  • Sarbam
    If they do remove a foodstuff that they deem unhealthy, are they replace it with something they do deem healthy?
  • Megjess
    Having seen lunch boxes full of chocolate, biscuits, sweets and little else I think it is good a school has a healthy lunch policy. Schools should be able to discuss this with parents and suggest healthier options where necessary rather than wading in heavy handed in the first instance. If a child persists in bringing multiple chocolate bars etc I see nothing wrong in taking some away to be given back to take home later. In everything common sense is always the key.
  • BrendaW
    Teachers who decide this should be implemented will ask Lunchtime staff to inspect and report back or confiscate seemingly unhealthy foods. As a Lunchtime Supervisor (Dinner Lady) we are busy enough helping, watching and keeping order in lunch hall with a mixture of cooked lunches and lunch boxes without having to police the content of those lunchboxes. Also there are some pupils who wouldn't eat at school if they didn't have the 'treats' in their boxes, it is just the nature of some children. Give the responsibility back to parents to make the right choices for their own children, or the next generation won't know how to parent responsibly. (I also speak as the mother of two healthy, happy, confident, independent sons aged 22 and 17 who didn't have the 'child police' watching over my shoulder all the time, just the example set by my own mother and her help and guidance before she passed away.)
  • blandfoo
    if they confiscate anything it should be returned at the end of the day with a note saying why or does it just give teachers free food for their own cravings
  • zorba_g
    Got to agree, it's easier to feed kids healthy food at home as you can be there to supervise or share the meal. Packed lunches are a different story, you don't want it to come home untouched as the kids won't be much use at school if they are hungry.
  • ceri30
    Does this also apply to the teachers? Who will inspect their packed lunches? It really does not sit well with me that I am being scrutinised as a parent for what my child eats at certain times of the day. My child takes sandwiches, yoghurt, crisps and a small chocolate bar. Other days he may take a pasta salad. He has a very balanced diet and eats lots of fruits and vegetables. I'm not feeding him bags of chocolate and crisps before bed!!! I agree that some packed lunches might be out be extreme end of unhealthy but I think that confiscating food from a child could encourage more devastating effects I. E. eating disorders, embarrassment for the child etc..... Put it this way, I will not conform to be judged on what my child eats in one 30 minute period by anyone!

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