EXPERTS have issued new guidance in a bid to ensure that children in school can eat fresh, healthy, locally produced food.

The report - Better Eating Better Learning - was released yesterday to coincide with ­International School Meals Day.

One of its aims is to ensure that all school meals should promote healthy eating.

It also states that ­local seasonal produce should be championed and catering and teaching staff should be working together on providing food education for pupils.

It also says that all staff dealing with school meals should be undertaking professional training on food, health and the environment and inspiring menuss to promote health and take into ­account pupils' feedback.

Michael Russell, ­education secretary said the guidance went further than previous nutritional standards.

He said: "The Scottish Government is committed to providing high quality school meals and this new guidance sets out how we will go about achieving this.

"There has already been nutritional guidance in place for a number of years, but Better Eating Better Learning aims to move beyond the simple health benefits, expanding the guidance out to the wider role of food, and particularly school food, in our society.

"Today's guidance strengthens our ­approach at a national level ahead of every P1-3 pupil being offered a school meal for free every day, which is also aimed at raising attainment."

Charles Milne, ­director of the Food Standards Agency, said "Schools have a pivotal role in providing food education in the broadest sense, as well as ­giving children and young people the opportunity to experience interesting, tasty and healthy food every day."