SCHOOL menus are deteriorating in Spain, with experts slating the food provided in a third of dining rooms.
Around 2 million children eat at school each day but are served too few vegetables, pulses and fish, they complain.
A heavy reliance on ready-prepared or sugar-heavy food was also detected.
Over the past 10 years experts monitored more than 400 menus at state, state-aided and private schools for the Eroski Consumer supermarket chain.
Of 418 menus at 209 schools in 19 provinces analysed during 2011, almost 30 per cent failed to include green vegetables at least one day a week.
Twenty per cent of schools were criticised for using too much ready-prepared food. Cost is not a deciding factor, Eroski discovered.
On the contrary, investigators found little difference between the 20 cheapest menus and the 20 most expensive.
Only 19 per cent of state schools received low marks. Almost half – 49 per cent – of their menus were graded as “good” or “very good” compared to 27 per cent of private or state-aided schools. None of the latter received the highest possible marks.
Some of the worst menus can be found at private and state-aided schools, with 28 per cent ranked “bad” or “mediocre,” Eroski said.
Menus prepared by outside caterers are now served in 70 per cent of schools, while the remainder provide their own food or work in collaboration with caterers.
Quality is often determined by whether or not caterers are used, according to the Eroski report.
Although there is little overall difference in the marks obtained, these tend to be higher when menus are sourced entirely or partly from caterers.