The health secretary takes on the Naked Chef

By staff

Britain’s health secretary has entered into a war of words with Jamie Oliver over his healthy school meals agenda.

Speaking to the British Medical Association (BMA), Andrew Lansley suggested an ‘interventionist’ approach was often counterproductive.

“Jamie Oliver, quite rightly, was talking about trying to improve the diet of children in schools and improving school meals. What was the net effect? Actually the number of children eating school meals in many of these places didn’t go up, it went down,” Mr Lansley told the conference in Brighton.

“There is a risk if we constantly are lecturing people and trying to tell them what to do, we will actually find that we might undermine and be counterproductive in the results that we achieve.

“We have to understand that this is a behaviour-change programme we’re engaged in and if behaviour doesn’t change, our likelihood is that we will fail.”

The comments prompted a furious reaction from Mr Oliver, who insisted the lack of progress centred on a lack of funds.

“To say school dinners hasn’t worked is not just inaccurate but is also an insult to the hard work of hundreds of thousands of dinner ladies, teachers, headteachers and parent helpers who strive to feed schoolkids a nutritious, hot meal for 190 days of the year,” Mr Oliver, known as the Naked Chef, said.

New Labour seized on Mr Oliver’s school food campaign when he shocked the public with programmes revealing the low quality of British school food, most memorably the processed meat of the ‘Turkey Twizzler’.