Cayman Islands Health Services
Authority community dietician and nutritionist Bethany Smith prepared new food
provisions that were introduced to the Cayman Islands public schools for the
2010-11 school year.
The measure was introduced by the
HSA to teach young people how to adopt and maintain a healthy, active
This year’s school menus include
balanced meals containing good sources of protein and starch, accompanied by
lots of vegetables and fruits, healthier drinks, and specific restrictions on
fatty meat products.
Quality meat and poultry
The goal of the tenth standard of
the Cayman Islands Public Schools: Standards for Food Provision is to limit the
intake of saturated fats and cholesterol from fatty meats.
It follows a similar rationale to
third, fourth and ninth standards, which call for low fat dairy, lean proteins,
and limited fried and high fat foods.
It especially reinforces the
guidelines for lean and higher quality meats in the fourth standard.
“This food standard helps school
canteens to provide good quality protein most of the time in order to promote
students’ growth and development rather than the seemingly cheapest short term
option,” Ms Smith said.
Fatty meats contain more, or just
as much, fat and protein, and are generally less expensive than leaner meats.
It can be tempting to use these
lower quality meats often in cafeteria settings to save costs and increase
Meats in this category are
considered to be sausages, bacon, hot dog, bologna, salami, pastrami, corned
beef, sausage rolls, oxtail, cow foot, and salt beef.
However, exceptions were made for
100 per cent chicken or turkey products as they generally contain less fat than
their beef or pork counterparts.
As explained for in the fourth
standard, most red meats and pork contain large amounts of saturated fat and
cholesterol, which are associated with high blood cholesterol.
High blood cholesterol can then
lead to blockages of the arteries feeding the heart and brain, causing a heart
attack or stroke.
The American Heart Association
advocates a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol as part of heart disease
and stroke prevention.
Research also found that the
beginning stages of narrowed and potentially blocked arteries begin in
Therefore, the American Academy of
Pediatrics also states that children over the age of two should be eating lower
intakes of fat, especially saturated fat.
The new school food standards limit
fatty meats and meat products to once every two weeks, or once a fortnight.
For example, salt beef and beans
and oxtail may be placed on the menu for the month but no other fatty meats
will be allowed that month.
Some schools may choose to offer
these types of meats even less often, which is also commendable.
“We would hope to see reduced rates
of heart disease as these children grow into adulthood and be able to attribute
that, in part, to interventions such as these,” Ms Smith said.