Dental nurse campaigns against giving dried raisins as a snack to young children

Dental nurse campaigns against giving dried raisins as a snack to young children

Jo Dawson, dental nurse and determined member of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry is trying to change the policy of the Government-funded School Fruit and Vegetable Service (SFVS) which gives out dried raisins as a snack on the first day of each half term. Jo is a Dental Nurse and Oral Health Educator at Devonshire House in Cambridgeshire.

Children between the ages of 5-7 in England are being given raisins as snacks despite the recommendation from Public Health England they should be kept to mealtimes. Jo Dawson makes the point that by giving out the dried raisins, the schools create the perception that raisins are a healthy snack to enjoy between meals.

She said: “Like most schools in the country, my children’s primary school receives fruit snacks through the SFVS, including raisins 6 times a year on the 1st day of every half term. This by itself is not entirely alarming, but it has implications. Schools cannot discourage dried fruit brought in as snacks by older children when they are given out by SFVS.”

Jo praised “the fabulous” evidence-based toolkit for prevention "Delivering Better Oral Health" which was created by Public Health England (PHE) and which includes guidance that dried fruit should be kept to mealtimes. Having contacted both the SFVS and PHE, Jo continues to push for dried fruit to be excluded from the SFVS scheme. “This needs to change to help protect our children’s precious smiles.”

Jo is full of praise for any school which promotes healthy eating. She identified Lower Place Primary School in Rochdale where Garry Johnson, the headteacher, has been recognised by the Oral Health Foundation for his Healthy Lunchbox and Snack policy.

Claire Stevens, spokeswoman for BSPD, said: “Dried fruit such as raisins can form part of a healthy diet, but we recommend that they are eaten sparingly and at mealtimes. Drying fruit concentrates the sugars and creates a food which can stick to teeth and cause decay. For this reason, whole fresh fruit and vegetables are a much safer snack for children. Well done to Jo for her single-minded crusade.”

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