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INTERNATIONAL ISSUES: Healthy School Lunches via Laboratory Testing and Scientific Test Standards

How international scientific test standards and laboratory testing influence students’ school lunches worldwide School lunches play a crucial role in providing students with the energy and nutrients they need to thrive both academically and physically. But ensuring that these lunches...

by | Aug 24, 2023

How international scientific test standards and laboratory testing influence students’ school lunches worldwide

School lunches play a crucial role in providing students with the energy and nutrients they need to thrive both academically and physically. But ensuring that these lunches are healthy is made possible by scientific test standards and laboratory testing. According to an article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students who eat healthy breakfasts and lunches have a better quality of health, enhanced attendance, reduced absenteeism, and improved test scores.

To ensure that every meal served to students meets high standards of safety and nutrition, school lunches are subject to various food safety, nutritional, and hygiene regulations that vary by country or region. These regulations ensure that the meals provided to students are safe, nutritious, and meet specific scientific testing standards.

International School Lunch Regulations:

Many nations have come to understand the importance of giving students access to healthy meals. The preparation and serving of school lunches are regulated by a distinctive set of rules and laws that have been developed by each region. In addition to covering nutritional value, quantity control, and allergen management, these rules also uphold food safety.

United States – National School Lunch Program NSLP

In the United States, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is, “a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions,” according to this article from the United States Department of Agriculture USDA. NSLP establishes thorough nutritional criteria that guarantee meals include a range of food categories, and appropriate portion sizes, and are inexpensive or free lunches for kids every school day.  To meet specific nutrient requirements and quality, regular laboratory testing and quality assurance compliance checks are conducted to guarantee that schools are meeting these laboratory testing standards.

European Union – Food Hygiene

The European Union (EU) made a plan to keep food safe. It includes all steps of making food and animal feed by focusing on tracing where food comes from and being careful. Food imported from foreign countries must meet the same food safety standards as those produced in the EU. To ensure that the food and animal feed meets these EU safety standards, laboratory testing is required.

Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 has prepared the general rules for EU food law. It was created by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA and establishes how to handle food safety problems, according to an article from the USDA. European Union Schools are required to follow strict testing protocols to ensure the cleanliness and safety of the meals. Rigorous laboratory testing ensures that the meals are free from contaminants that could lead to foodborne illnesses.

Australia New Zealand – FSANZ Food Standards Code:

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) covers a wide range of food safety, labeling, and student nutrition aspects.

School canteens must adhere to these standards to provide students with meals that are not only safe but also appropriately labeled in terms of nutritional information.

This is especially important for proper allergy management. Standard testing and regulations help identify and manage allergens while safeguarding children with allergies from possible exposure.

To read the full FSANZ code and learn more about the food and safety standards of Australia and New Zealand, go here.

Japan – Shokuiku Standard

In Japan, nutritional standards for school meals have been set by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The idea of dietary education, which involves education through food, has spread throughout the country’s education system.

In the Basic Act on Shokuiku (Food and Nutrition Education), was established in 2005. Stating that dietary education is positioned as “the basis of a human life which is fundamental to intellectual education, moral education, and physical education”.

From infancy, dietary education is a vital part of childhood education in Japan.

Here is an infographic, from MEXT, about the details, history, and importance of the Shokuiku School Lunch Program Act.

The safety and healthiness of school lunches are connected to creating the best learning conditions for students.

When schools follow strict rules and carefully test the food, they make sure that every meal helps students grow and improve. As parents, teachers, and policymakers, it is the job of adults to guarantee that the food provided to children tastes good, is safe, healthy, and made with love.


Contact Laboratory Can Help You

Contract Laboratory can help your company with all types of food testing by connecting you with our network of certified testing labs. Submit a free test request on our website or call us toll-free at 1-855-377-6821.

See more school and food test requests here.

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