A team led by the Institute of Food Research has completed a 2-year study of food choices made at a North London school, to be published on Thursday. Scientists tested the viability of using “smart card” technology to monitor pupils’ mealtime choices.
Project leader Dr Nigel Lambert said: “School dinners are currently a highly political and emotive social issue. The government has pledged to tackle menus, but measuring children’s eating habits at school is fraught with difficulties. Accurate information is necessary to support the government’s public health policies. Smart card technology could provide a practical and accurate solution.”
One in five English secondary schools makes use of basic smart card systems for meal payment. This takes cash out of schools and reduces queuing times. The cafeteria at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School routinely serves around 1000 diners aged 7-16 and their system was upgraded for the study. For over a year, a full electronic audit was made of every transaction that took place and each food chosen was converted to its nutrient composition.
Zoe Dunford | alfa
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