Footlong Ham SubFast food chain Subway could become the first fast food outlet in the country to sell its food in a school.

Subway, the US-based sandwich franchise, is in talks with a comprehensive school in Didsbury, Greater Manchester, to set up a counter in its sixth-form canteen. The headteacher of Parrs Wood High met two representatives from the company after he became aware that sixth-formers were visiting a nearby Subway outlet at lunch time.

Promoting Healthier Lifestyles?

That is the claim of Subway’s brochure for its School Lunch Program in the US that also talks about “fresh solutions for your school lunch program with the #1 franchise”. According to the brochure “Students are customers who trust familiar trademarks. By offering SUBWAY® sandwiches in your school cafeteria, you’ll be offering a brand name that is both well known and liked by your student customers.”

Isn’t providing our children with a healthy nutritious meal more important than building and promoting brand loyalty to processed fast food?

Subway may suggest we “Eat Fresh” in it’s advertising, yet it uses large amounts of preservatives in the processing of its food. Example chemicals in Subway’s bread include DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate, ascorbic acid, potassium iodate, azodicarbonamide, calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate and ammonium sulfate.

Calcium carbonate was actually used extensively when I was at school, but that was to enable the teachers to write on the blackboards! (Blackboard chalk is calcium carbonate).

As for ammonium sulfate, it is used most commonly as an artificial fertilizer for alkaline soils. Ammonium sulfate is potentially dangerous to both people and the environment, so it requires care in its use. It can cause severe irritation and inflammation of the respiratory tract if inhaled. Eating or drinking ammonium sulfate will cause irritation in the gastrointestinal tract like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, although it isn’t toxic unless consumed in large quantities. Contact with the skin or eyes will cause irritation, redness, itching, and pain. It may also be a neurotoxin, meaning it can cause confusion and behavioral changes.  

Jamie’s School Dinners

Jamie’s School Dinners was a four-episode documentary series broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK from 23 February to 16 March 2005. The results of the changes in school dinners Jamie Oliver was able to introduce have been shown to have improved academic results and attendance in schools.

The proportion of 11-year-olds in Greenwich, south London, who did well in English and science rose after Oliver swept “turkey twizzlers” and chicken dinosaurs off canteen menus in favour of creamy coconut fish and Mexican bean wraps, according to a study of results in the south east London borough.

The number of “authorised absences” — which are generally due to illness – fell by 15% in the wake of his 2004 Feed Me Better campaign, brought into the nation’s sitting rooms via the Channel 4 series Jamie’s School Dinners.

The researchers estimated that the proportion of students who got level 4 in their English Sats at key stage 2 increased by 4.5 percentage points after his intervention.

The percentage who got level 5 in science was up 6 percentage points, they reported.

Can Jamie’s school meals revolution survive the Gove recipe?

A report by the Children’s Food Trust (CFT) shows the proportion of teenagers having chips at lunchtime has dropped from 43% to just 7% between 2004 and 2011, while those consuming starchy foods cooked in fat or oil, such as garlic bread or yorkshire pudding, is down from 50% to 17%. The number of schools offering pizza every day has fallen from 66% to 50%.

At the same time the number of pupils eating sandwiches has risen from 13% to 29%. Those having vegetables and salad has doubled, albeit only to 12%, while 98% of schools now have both foods on their menu four or five days a week – up from 60%. Two-thirds fewer pupils now opt for sweet treats such as cakes and biscuits.

And today’s average school lunch is more nutritious than in 2004, containing a third less salt, sugar, total fat and saturated fat, and 50% more vitamin A.

Changes in government policy have resulted in an increasing number of academies and free schools that are exempt from government standards on school meals.

Jamie Oliver says:

“I just wish Mr Gove and the government would wake up and support these positive results by reinstating the perfectly good, cash-neutral, nutritional standards they’ve callously stripped away, that were there to protect our children. As more and more schools get academy status, it’s more vital than ever that the law is changed immediately to bring academies in line with the nutritional standards for maintained schools. To simply trust busy, financially strapped headteachers to make school food a priority is short-sighted and dangerous”.

Nutritionalist Annabel Karmel says:

“it seems Subway are being allowed to make money from children’s school dinners. Allowing them to set up shop in schools would surely only be the start of other fast food chains coming into the school environment. What’s to stop McDonalds or Burger King? These places, although fine as an occasional treat, aren’t for everyday consumption. One in three children in the country is overweight anyway. The last thing we need is to send out the message that eating fast food is acceptable every day. Children need to be educated how to eat properly. As adults we need to encourage them to have variety in their diet. I certainly don’t think a sandwich everyday constitutes that. It’s also boring.”

A Salty Scandal

Subway, which has more outlets than McDonald’s in the UK, were criticsed in 2008 after it was discovered some of the chain’s sandwiches contained as much salt as 18 bags of crisps and 80 per cent more saturated fat than a Big Mac. The six inch Meatball Marinara contained 4.7g of salt  -  the equivalent of 11.75 packs of ready salted crisps. The 12inch version contains a staggering 7.2g of salt  -  as much as is found in 18 packs of salted crips and 20 per cent more than an adult should eat in an entire day. 

The Food Standards Agency calculated that more than 14,000 people are dying prematurely each year because of this daily overdose of salt, which is linked to high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. It also says we are eating 20 per cent too much saturated fat, which contributes to the 200,000 deaths a year from coronary heart disease.

Cheese, bacon, ham, butter and mayonnaise are the sandwich fillings most likely to drive up salt and saturated fat levels. High salt readings were also found in a Subway Melt which had 4.3g, while the Waitrose Turkey Club contains 3.9g. Subway has since cut the amount of salt in its sandwiches.

Earlier this year, Subway’s president Fred DeLuca outlined the firm’s plans for expansion in the UK and Ireland, targeting 600 new stores by 2015.

When the Huffington Post contacted the school and spoke with the headteacher’s PA they were told:

“We are not having any more contact with the media. This is a very busy time as we are coming to the end of the school year and we have been told by the head we are not to give out any more information or speak to the press.”

Year Without Beer

Never mind the Olympics, 2012 is my Year Without Beer! I am spending all 366 days of this leap year alcohol free in an attempt to raise money for 2 charities that are both very close to my heart.

If giving up all alcohol for a year isn’t enough of a challenge to make you dig deep and show your support, maybe a quarter marathon, 10 mile road race (Great South Run) and 8 mile off road challenge (The Grim Original) will inspire you to sponsor me!

If you want to show some love them please donate to my year without beer and give your support to one of these fantastic causes:

  • To donate to Cancer Research UK please click here to visit my just giving page or donate by text – send AYWB66 and the amount to 70070. For example, texting “AYWB66 £5″ will donate £5.
  • To donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust please click here to visit my just giving page or donate by text – send AYWB55 and the amount to 70070. For example, texting “AYWB55 £5″ will donate £5.
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In Aid of Cystic Fibrosis Trust
2013 Miles in 2013

Year Without Beer!

© Neil Martin 2012 - 2013