Our campaigns

Find out more about what we've asked for and achieved.

Here's all of our reports:

  • No Junk Challenge
  • Out to Lunch
  • Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie
  • Food for Life
  • Action on additives
  • Carrots or Chemistry?

No Junk Challenge

Encouraging parents to cook with fresh, natural ingredients and to challenge the food industry to get rid of the "junk" in childrens' food.

No Junk Challenge

What we found

It’s not easy to avoid the junk in childrens' foods, or understand the information on the labels. We wanted the food industry to make a change to make it easier for us to feed our families good food. 

What we did

We called on parents to take the challenge and see if they could avoid junk for a week. We shared tips for understanding food labels, exposed foods with hidden ingredients, and celebrated cooking from scratch with lots of tips to help families shop and cook junk free food with their little ones. 

What happened

Lots of families signed up to take the challenge across the year with picnics, lunchboxes, and at Halloween and Christmas. They shared their experiences, triumphs and challenges, with us and each other.

Out to Lunch

Calling on our favourite eateries to make simple changes to provide the standard we should expect when eating out as a family.

What we found

In 2013, in partnership with the Soil Association we researched 21 of the most popular high-street restaurants and pubs and found that children’s menus just aren’t making the grade. 

  • More than 57% of the restaurants and pubs have the 'usual suspects' of nuggets, sausages and burgers in most or all of their meat dishes.
  • More than 38% don't offer a portion of vegetables or salad with most of their main meals.
  • More than 80% give no indication of where food comes from on the menu.
  • More than 90% do not offer children’s portions of adult meals as standard.
  • More than half don’t provide the option of children’s cutlery.

What we did

We campaigned for restaurants to commit to five actions that will have a huge impact:

  1. Offer all children the choice of a child's portion of adult meals.
  2. Serve freshly prepared food, not ready meals.
  3. Offer free water to all families on arrival.
  4. Offer children's cutlery as standard.
  5. Make breastfeeding mums feel welcome.

What happened

In 2015, the league table was republished, with great results:

  • 4 more chains are serving a portion of veg or salad with every meal.   
  • 4 more chains include information on where ingredients come from on the menu. 
  • Over 5.5 million meals served to children this year include healthier options. 

The biggest contributors to these positive changes are larger chains, like Harvester and Prezzo, and also Giraffe. Work with those chains continues and the league table will continue to be republished to keep improving the quality of children's food. 

Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie 

Highlighting the problem of unregulated food standards in the early years setting and calling on parents and the government to help make a change.

What we found

With the Soil Association we examined the state of food served in nurseries and children’s centres and found widespread variability in the quality of food on offer.

Foods that are now banned or restricted in schools were still regularly served to under-fives and colourings and additives that would not be allowed in manufactured foods for young children provided.

Nursery food was largely unregulated; the only legally enforceable rule that existed didn’t apply to the nine out of ten nurseries that weren’t state-maintained. 

What we did

We highlighted three key ways in which government policy should support healthier nursery school food provision. 

  1. Provide a lead on both sentiment and policy in encouraging better provision of food in nurseries.
  2. Implement a set of statutory nutrient-based standards for nursery food, to be enforced by Ofsted and Estyn inspectors.
  3. Introduce compulsory cookery and nutrition training for all catering staff in nurseries.

What happened

By publishing the report we were able to highlight the problem to demand action from government. We also encouraged parents to meet with their nursery manager and ask questions to put pressure on them to improve their food offer. 

Food for Life

Campaigning for a healthier food culture in schools.

What we found

In 2003, more than two decades of a lack of regulation around school dinners meant that attractive, tasty and nutritious meals made from quality ingredients had been sacrificed in favour of competition, convenience, and low costs. 

What we did

We called on the government to make a decisive, far-reaching intervention to upgrade school meals.

Before long, the infamous Jamie's School Dinners television programme aired and the public were outraged. The poor state of school dinners was in the headlines daily and we saw a rise in awareness and interest in the work the Food for Life Partnership was doing to help schools improve their meals.

It wasn't long before the government made dramatic changes, including the formation of the Children’s Food Trust and new nutritional standards for school meals. 

What happened

Riding on the success of the Food for Life campaign, the Soil Association found funding to work with schools across England.

In 2006, the Food for Life Partnership secured a £16.9 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund to create a healthy food culture in local schools and communities. 

Independent research, summarised in a new report ‘Good food for all’, reveals the success of five years of the Food for Life Partnership. It's working with over 4,500 schools and communities across England to transform food culture. 

Action on additives

Demanding change in the use of additives in childrens' food.

What we found

In 2004 the Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned new research, the ‘Southampton study’, to check the results of an earlier Isle of Wight study into the potentially harmful effects of artificial food colourings and preservatives commonly used in childrens' food. 

What we did

The "Southampton Study" was published in 2007 and confirmed that mixtures of artifical food colourings and the preservative sodium benzoate did affect some children’s behaviour.

After consuming drinks which contained six artificial colours – tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), allura red AC (E129), and quinoline yellow (E104), and the preservative sodium benzoate (E211) commonly used in soft drinks – the children were found to become boisterous and lose concentration.

They were unable to play with one toy or complete one task, and they engaged in unusually impulsive behaviour. The older group were unable to complete a 15-minute computer exercise. Results varied between children but the study found that poor behaviour was observed in children who had no record of hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder. 

What happened

The research led to the European Parliament requiring clear labelling on food and drink to indicate the use of these colourings, and warnings about their effects on attention and behaviour in children under a voluntary ban from July 2010. 

There have been some very high profile product reformulations by Nestle, Coca-Cola and Cadburys, own label, and minor brands. This has restricted the exposure of children to these artificial colours and the impact they can have on behaviour.

Carrots or Chemistry?

Calling for responsible manfacturers, retailers, and parents to force the food industry to clean up its act.

What we found

Food for children, whether special packs of chicken nuggets or biscuits, or the 'Children's Menu' in a restaurant, frequently means food that is over-processed, overcoloured, over-flavoured, and often high in sugar, fat and salt. 

What we did

The report, published in 2002, contained the results of detailed surveys of a wide range of food targeted at children.

It found that the focus of the food industry on making and marketing children's food on the basis of convenience, price and kiddie appeal, means that parents are faced with little choice in feeding their children natural and nutritious foods.

But children need safe, nutritious and wholesome foods. What they eat affects not only their daily wellbeing, but their long-term growth and development. Good food gives children a better chance in life - a better chance of learning well and developing healthy bodies. 

What happened

The report called for the Government to use the strictly regulated baby food industry as a model to introduce comprehensive new legislation which regulates childrens' food up to the age of six.

It also demanded a code of practice for manufacturers to exclude Azo dyes and colourings not proved to be safe for use for all children, restrictions on the use of flavourings and preservatives, and more transparent food labelling.

You may also be interested in

Ideas and advice
Ideas and advice
Good food advice to help you avoid the junk.
Find out more