Q. Why can I sell yoghurt, milk and custard (mostly Reduced-fat) that contain intense (artificial) sweeteners but no other foods containing these sweeteners?
A. Milk, yoghurt and custard are excellent sources of calcium and studies have shown that Australian school children are not consuming enough calcium (DoHA 2008). By providing these products in the school canteen, if there is a demand for them, it will give Australian school children more opportunity to consume foods and drinks high in this important nutrient. Reduced fat options are best.

All other products containing intense (artificial) sweeteners are categorised as Red. This is because most products containing intense (artificial) sweeteners are ‘dessert’ type products or foods that are of low nutritional value, such as soft drinks.

Q. Why is the sale of coffee milk drinks restricted?
A. Coffee milk drinks may contain caffeine. At certain levels, caffeine is known to increase irritability and restlessness in some adults. Sensitivity to caffeine varies from person to person. However, there are no clear guidelines around maximum recommended amounts for children and caffeine is not necessary for growth and development. The NHSC Guidelines provides for the sale of coffee milk drinks to secondary school only with a maximum serve size of 375mL to limit the amount of caffeine consumed in one dose.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a milk drink that contains coffee flavouring and one that contains caffeine. To avoid confusion, the NHSC Guidelines treats coffee flavouRed milk drinks and milk drinks containing caffeine in the same way. Coffee-style drinks may be sold in secondary school, with a maximum serve size of 375mL.

Q. Can I sell milk drinks in a serve size larger than 375mL?
A. Milk is an excellent source of calcium (Reduced fat options are best). The NHSC Guidelines do not limit the serve size of milk drinks, except in the case of coffee milk drinks (please see previous question). For all other milk drinks, we suggest a serve size of 375mL or less. A serve size of 250mL or less may be more appropriate for primary school children. However, larger sizes can be sold at the discretion of the canteen manager in both primary and secondary school.

Q. Why do the NHSC Guidelines focus on energy, saturated fat, sodium (salt) and dietary fibre?
A. Consuming foods and drinks high in saturated fat and low in dietary fibre may contribute to excess energy (kilojoules) being consumed, which can contribute to overweight and obesity as well as increase the risk of chronic disease later in life, such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancers. Salt has also been identified as a nutrient that may contribute to chronic disease (in particular, high blood pressure) if consumed in large amounts. The NHSC Guidelines encourage consumption of foods categorised as Green as these foods contain a wide range of nutrients and are generally lower in saturated fat and salt.

Q. Why are full-fat dairy products categorised as Amber and not Green?
A. Full-fat dairy products are a rich source of protein, calcium, vitamin A and some B vitamins. However, they are relatively high in saturated fat. The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend children 2 years of age and older choose Reduced-fat varieties of dairy foods where possible. Reduced-fat dairy products provide similar quantities of calcium, protein and vitamins to the full-fat versions but they contribute far less saturated fat. Therefore, Reduced-fat dairy products should be promoted as a healthier alternative to full-fat dairy products.

Q. Why is fruit juice categorised as Amber and not Green?
A. Fruit juice contains some valuable nutrients. However, it is much lower in dietary fibre than fresh fruit. Drinking fruit juice can contribute to excess energy being consumed. The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend choosing whole fruit instead of fruit juice because it is higher in fibre and more filling. Fruit juices are also acidic and frequent consumption may increase risk of dental erosion. Therefore, fresh, canned (in natural juice) and frozen whole fruit should be promoted as a healthier alternative to juice.

Fruit juice should only be consumed occasionally.

Q. Why is dried fruit categorised as Amber and not Green?
A. Dried fruit can be used but because it has a lower water content, it is more energy dense than fresh fruit. It is a good source of fibre and adds variety to the diet. If eaten in large amounts, dried fruit can easily contribute to excess energy being consumed. The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that dried fruit should only be consumed only occasionally. Fresh, canned (with no added sugar) and frozen whole fruit should be promoted as a healthier alternative to dried fruit. Dried fruit sticks to the teeth and promotes tooth decay. The Australian Dental Association recommends dried fruit be eaten as part of a meal, not as a between-meal snack.

Q. Is it okay to use frozen or canned fruit and vegetables?
A. Choose in-season, locally grown produce, for the best flavour and value for money. If this isn’t possible, frozen or canned vegetables and fruit can be a convenient alternative. Choose canned or frozen vegetables without added salt and added flavourings. Select fruit canned in natural juice (no added sugar).

Q. Why is white bread categorised as Green?
A. Bread is a good source of carbohydrate, protein, fibre and many vitamins and minerals. Different types of bread add variety to the diet. the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines recognises all breads as a valuable source of nutrients, with wholemeal or wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties being better choices within the bread category. The NHSC Guidelines are consistent with this message by stating that all breads are categorised as Green and suggesting higher fibre choices where possible.