FSA publishes food knowledge framework for children

The Food Standards Agency has published a framework of core skills and knowledge for children and young people, which sets out the essential building blocks in relation to healthy eating, cooking and food safety.

The food competences framework, as it is known, is intended to help schools and community-based organisations provide children and young people with the foundation to make healthy food choices now and into adulthood.

Within the themes of diet and health, consumer awareness, cooking (food preparation and handling), and food safety, the framework applies to young people aged between 5 and 16+, and also encompasses wider food issues that reflect the views of both the FSA and those who responded to the consultation.

The food competences will support wider Government work aimed at improving the health of young people and contribute towards helping schools develop a 'whole school approach' to diet and health. Because they are progressive and cumulative from one age stage to the next, the framework will help children to develop a consistent set of food skills and knowledge. Importantly, the competences apply to all learning experiences, both within and outside the school setting, and can be met at home or through other activities.

The food competences framework will be promoted through a UK-wide network of existing practitioners, already working through schemes such as the FSA What's Cooking Programme, the Cooking Bus, Healthy Schools Programmes and other cooking club programmes. The FSA will also be encouraging other relevant organisations to adopt the framework.

The food competences framework falls within the FSA's core principles, also published today. These outline the Agency's fundamental objectives in relation to its work with schools across the UK.

Head of Nutrition at the FSA, Rosemary Hignett, said: "Young people must be able to select and prepare a safe, healthy and balanced diet for themselves. Eating habits are often set early in life and through the food competences framework the Agency is helping to shape the eating habits of the next generation.

"We believe children should be aware of all aspects of food from 'farm to fork', to knowing how to check labels, and why steaming is better than frying. By embedding the competences throughout a range of activities, inside and outside of schools, there will be greater consistency in helping children to choose, cook and eat safe, healthy food."

The Agency will review the food competences in 2009.

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