National Healthy School Canteens

Guidelines for healthy foods and drinks supplied in school canteens

How to decide if a food or drink is suitable for sale in a healthy school canteen

Page last updated: 28 October 2013

When considering whether a product is suitable for sale in healthy school canteens, it is important to assess its nutritional value. Some foods and drinks can immediately be identified as belonging to the GREEN or RED category by referring to the lists on pages 6 and 8. These products do not require further assessment: GREEN may be sold; RED should not be sold.

If the food or drink does not fall into the GREEN or RED category easily, it is likely to fall into the AMBER category (page 7). Refer to the appropriate page of the Food Table (beginning on page 15) and follow the suggestions to move the food or drink closer to the GREEN’ end of the spectrum. If necessary assess the product against the AMBER Nutrient Criteria (page 10). More suggestions for ‘GREENing’ the menu are included on page 35.

The Nutrient Criteria Tables on page 10 represent the foods and drinks most likely to fall into the AMBER category.

  • Table 1: Hot food items and processed meats
These foods are assessed per 100 grams to allow for differences in serve size from young children to older children.
  • Table 2: Snack foods
These foods are assessed per serve size to limit large amounts of these types of foods being consumed.

Step 1
Compare item against GREEN, AMBER, RED categories.
  • Fits easily into the GREEN category, No further assessment necessary – item may be sold.
  • Fits easily into the RED category, No further assessment necessary – item should not be sold.
Step 2
For all other foods and drinks refer to the Food Table, and if necessary, assess against the AMBER Nutrient Criteria.
  • Under threshold for energy, saturated fat, sodium and over threshold for fibre (all criteria are met) item may be sold: AMBER category.
  • Over threshold for energy, saturated fat, sodium or under threshold for fibre (if any criteria not met) item should not be sold: RED category.
Step 3
Follow suggestions in the Food Table to move foods and drinks closer to the ‘GREEN’ end of the food and drink spectrum.