Traffic Light Food System In Schools

food choices in schools

Thought red light meant stop? Green light go? And as for that amber light – well who’s really sure?

Now there’s a ‘traffic light’ colour system of food categorisation to help identify and promote foods in government schools.

The Smart Choices Healthy Food and Drink Supply Strategy has been designed to help children make the right choices of different foods and drinks, where food is supplied in the school environment including tuckshops, class rewards, fundraising, excursions and camps, and other school events.

Three Choices

Green Light Food Choices

  • These are the best and healthiest choices and should be heavily encouraged.  These foods should be available from all key food outlets for as much of the day as possible in schools, and actively promoted as healthier options.
  • Green light foods are excellent sources of important nutrients needed for health and well being, and are low in saturated fat, added sugar and salt. These types of foods can be eaten every day or at every meal.
  • Examples of Green light food include plain or wholegrain breads and cereals, rice, yogurt, pasta, noodles, fish, reduced fat milk, cheese, lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables and salads, nuts, legumes and water.

green light food in school

Amber Light Food Choices

  • Choose carefully- these types of food should not dominate the menu at the expense of the healthier Green items and should be provided in small serving sizes
  • These items have some nutritional value, and include moderate amounts of fat, and/or added sugar, and/or added salt, and if in large portion sizes can add on unwanted kilojoules or calories.
  • Amber items include full fat dairy, processed meats, margarine, mayonnaise, oil, spreads, sauces and gravy, snack food bars, cakes, muffins and sweet biscuits, ice creams and ice blocks, fruit juice (250 ml) and some breakfast cereals.

amber light food muffin



Red Light Food Choices

  • should only be eaten occasionally
  • Red light foods should not be promoted or advertised in any way and should not be on prominent display and stocked in the smallest portion size available.
  • Red light items lack adequate nutrition, are high in saturated fats, sugar and/or salt and have excess kilojoules or calories.
  • Sugar, artificially sweetened drinks, confectionary/lollies, deep fried foods, savoury snack foods and crisps/chips, ice creams – chocolate coated and premium ice creams, and cakes, muffins, sweet pastries are all Red light items.



red light potato chips Children should eat a wide range of foods so that they have the energy for learning and growing. A ‘traffic light’ system is in place to help schools plan menus full of healthy, nutritious and affordable food and drinks. And there is no reason why this can’t be done at home too!

For further information, have a look at the Queensland Department of Education Smart Choices Information.

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