TV chef Jamie Oliver has heaped more criticism on education secretary Michael Gove over the issue of school meals.
Oliver, who campaigned to improve school meals for several years, has previously accused Mr Gove of presiding over some of the worst school meals in his time as education secretary and hit out at his decision to take away nutritional standards in academies.
Michael Gove: here today, gone tomorrow?
Now he has told the Radio Times: "Gove does not understand food in schools. Taking away those nutritional standards is an incredible abuse of policy. For the life of me, I do not understand why he's done it."
He said that the government was not collecting figures for the take-up of school meals and that "basically means that he doesn't give a s*** about whether numbers go up or down.
"If he doesn't know, he doesn't care... he's obsessed with reducing red tape.
"I've met him and he's very nice, very energetic. Sadly, I happen to disagree with so many of the things that he's done to school food."
He said: "I'm not going to waste my energy talking to this lot. I am going to put my head down, get through this bloody recession, and in a few years' time I'll be ready to bang on doors again."
Government ministers, he added, "are like ships that pass in the night - they'll all be gone fairly soon. I'll still be here in 20 years. Mr Gove won't."
Oliver's comments come the day after he visited a Surrey school with the Prince of Wales to see how the school had transformed its approach to healthy eating through a series of measures put in place by its headteacher.
A Department for Education spokesperson said that the government was looking at other ways to collect data on the take-up of meals in schools because the previous method had not been effective.
"We made the decision to stop the old school meals take- up survey as it was not providing the detailed information we needed," the spokesperson said.
"We are currently assessing more effective methods for this data collection."
The spokesperson added: "Some maintained schools and Academies have said that they find the food standards too bureaucratic, difficult to administer and rigid.
"Despite not having to stick to them, many Academies are actually exceeding the standards and are offering their pupils very high quality, nutritional food.
"We have asked independent reviewers Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent of Leon restaurants to look into what more needs to be done to accelerate the inspiring work done by Jamie Oliver and others to ensure that all children eating in English schools are offered good, well balanced food."
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