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British Health Secretary slams Jamie Oliver

Posted by Sheryl Julian  July 2, 2010 12:56 PM

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jamieoliver3.jpgAt a conference this week, British Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told the British Medical Association that Jamie Oliver's efforts in the schools there had the opposite effect of what Oliver wanted. "The number of children eating school meals in many of these places didn't go up, it went down," the minister told the group.

Oliver fired back. "To say School Dinners hasn't worked," Oliver told the Telegraph newspaper, "is not just inaccurate but is also an insult to the hard work of hundreds of thousands of dinner ladies, teachers, head teachers, and parent helpers who strive to feed school kids a nutritious, hot meal for 190 days a year."

He told the Telegraph that problems with school meals have to do with lack of funding to train staff. The group that tracks school children and lunches said that Oliver had reversed a 30-year decline in the number of lunches sold.

The British chef spent several months in this country in Huntington, W. Va., trying to redo their school lunch program and turn around problems of poor eating and obesity. A crew from ABC followed him around for a series that aired last spring and it seemed like almost everyone disliked Oliver, who wanted to ban french fries and other high-fat items from school cafeterias.

Oliver is passionate about kids and good eating habits, as he explains here at a TED conference. You'd think his own health minister would be for, rather than against, him.

About Dishing

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Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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