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Minister Smith Pledges Support for EU Scheme for Distribution of Fruit in Schools

At the Council of Ministers meeting today in Luxembourg, Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pledged his support for the Commission proposal to establish an EU Scheme for distribution of fruit in schools. The proposal is modelled on Ireland's very successful "food dude" scheme. Minister Smith said: "Our experience in Ireland with our existing national scheme has been very positive. We think there is great merit in undertaking a measure at EU level that will encourage healthy eating by our children. It addresses a real and urgent problem of growing obesity in our society."

Our policies have consistently supported balanced diets. Low intakes of fruit and vegetables and of milk by primary schoolchildren were established in a Scientific Study on Children's Diet carried out by Trinity and UCC with funding from my Department and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. These findings have been addressed by the re-launch of the school milk scheme with a wider range of products and the scaling up of the "food dude" fruit and vegetable scheme from pilot status.

The "food dude" scheme encourages primary schoolchildren to taste and enjoy fruit and vegetables and will have reached 1,000 primary schools by end 2008.

Date Released: 28 October 2008