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Using technology to demonstrate compliance with school food guidelines

West Lothian Council implemented Nutmeg nutrition analysis software over 15 years ago to analyse all school meal menus. Since then, it has used the innovative solution to demonstrate compliance with evolving nutrition regulations in its schools.

A vital tool for West Lothian Council menu planning

Nutmeg nutritional analysis software has enabled the council to comply with changing policies and implement nutritious menus across its schools despite multiple changes to school food regulations.

“Nutmeg is a vital tool for menu planning across all schools in West Lothian. With evolving food standards, Nutmeg enables council staff to plan out healthy menus in line with government nutrition guidelines whilst allowing us to cater to specific allergen and dietary requirements with ease.

Nutmeg updates the system accordingly whenever school food guidelines change, ensuring that recipes and menus abide by the new rules.” - Jamie Fisher, Facilities and Support Services Manager at West Lothian Council.

One of Nutmeg’s key features utilised by West Lothian Council is the Nutritional Analysis function to maintain strict food standards. Nutritional Analysis provides an overview of the dietary components of menus created at a glance, e.g., carbohydrates, fibre and vitamin C content, highlighting whether the menus meet the nutrition guidelines for each nutrient. West Lothian Council can use this function to analyse menus daily and weekly.

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With school menus the same across each primary school, West Lothian Council uses Nutmeg during the planning process to link with The Food Act, updating menus accordingly to the standards provided.

Whenever there is an update to the legislation for the school food regulations, Nutmeg automatically updates to reflect this. This functionality proved helpful with the recent changes to the Scottish School Food Standards, with new measures to improve the quality of food served in Scottish schools and limit processed foods offered to pupils. Nutmeg updated the required guidelines when the new rules came into effect, ensuring that West Lothian Council schools remained compliant despite significant changes to menu requirements.

Using Nutmeg during menu developments enable the council to stay compliant with nutrition legislations throughout the entire process, saving time manually checking for compliance and eliminating the risk of food served falling short of strict guidelines.

Demonstrating compliance with school food standards

As school food standards evolve and adapt, schools can risk falling short of achieving these standards without a nutritional analysis program that adapts to the changing regulations. For West Lothian Council, the Graphs and Food standards button has proved crucial in demonstrating compliance with nutrition regulations.

West Lothian Council uses Nutmeg to demonstrate compliance by comparing their weekly menus with a bar chart for nutritional standards and a comparison chart for the School Food Standards from legislation set by the government.

The nutritional bar chart enables council staff to see which food meets the legislation, with green highlighting compliance, red demonstrating failure to meet compliance, and yellow as a pass. Council staff can also replace recipes that fail to meet government guidance with a menu that meets the legislation.

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With 68 primary schools alone in West Lothian Council, using Nutmeg offers a simple way to ensure school menu contents meet food regulations across multiple sites, with all information available in one place. Council staff do not need to spend time checking compliance for each school. The Nutmeg school food standards function offers a descriptive table with information, e.g., how much fibre the bread should contain and how many vegetables to serve per week.

Catering to pupil dietary requirements

Whether in a school, restaurant or private setting, catering to dietary requirements is no longer optional. When planning menus across many schools, it is crucial to factor in pupils’ specific nutritional needs.

"Nutmeg helps with special diets when planning menus, e.g., the carbohydrate count for pupils with diabetes." - Gary Borthwick, FM Area Manager at West Lothian Council.

When planning menus for its schools, West Lothian Council uses Nutmeg to search for recipes to add to the menus. Within this search, council staff can search for recipes that cater to specific diets, e.g., vegan, vegetarian, Halal and Kosher, and look at particular macronutrients and micronutrients to ensure that meals are suitable for pupils with health conditions, such as diabetes.

All schools now offer vegetarian lunch options, and some provide vegan choices for every meal. Nutmeg makes it simple to meet multiple dietary requirements in just a few clicks.

Safeguarding pupils with allergies

With thousands of pupils in multiple schools across West Lothian, safeguarding pupils with allergens is critical. Failing to cater to allergy requirements can result in potentially life-threatening results.

For 15+ years, Nutmeg has proved vital for West Lothian Council when accessing allergen information for menu planning and implementation. Within Nutmeg, council staff can see all the allergen information in their viewing menu for each of the recipes planned, excluding allergens such as gluten, dairy, nuts, and more for particular menu items.

To communicate these allergens to catering staff and pupils when selecting food, Nutmeg brings any allergen information to the labelling feature, enabling staff to print labels for packaged foods, highlighting clear allergens present.

Natasha’s Law came into effect in October 2021 and required all food outlets, including schools, to provide complete ingredient lists with clear allergen labelling on pre-packaged food for direct sale. Nutmeg has enabled West Lothian Council to comply with these rules and offer complete visibility of allergens in packaged food served in its schools.

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The future of Nutmeg for West Lothian Council

Having recently announced CRB Cunningham’s acquisition of Nutmeg software, existing Nutmeg customers, like West Lothian Council, can reap significant benefits from the procurement. CRB Cunninghams offers a fully integrated suite of solutions, including cashless catering, online payments and identity management, and now Nutmeg nutritional analysis software to its extensive range of school solutions.

Offering cashless functionality and nutritional Analysis in one place is vital for West Lothian Council. As existing CRB Cunninghams customers who utilise our cashless solutions amongst its schools, including the Fusion Online pre-order app, the council has stated the importance of Nutmeg integrating with their cashless system.

“This integration would allow us to analyse meal uptake to link with nutrition analysis, rather than inputting the information manually.”  - Gary Borthwick, West Lothian Council.

Integrating Nutmeg with cashless school systems would mean all the recipe information that comes directly from the Nutmeg system, such as allergens, micronutrients and dietary requirements, would go straight into the cashless system. This integration would mean that West Lothian Council would eliminate the need for council staff to repeat information and highlights the uptake of meals served across the entire council.

Learn more about Nutmeg nutritional analysis software.