Jamie Oliver gives UK govt a serve

Jamie Oliver has plans to open a restaurant in NZ.
Photo / File
Jamie Oliver has plans to open a restaurant in NZ. Photo / File

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has given the British government a serve at the launch of his Ministry of Food program in Victoria.

Oliver said he was "chuffed to bits" to be starting Australia's second Jamie's Ministry of Food, which is tipped to be in the major regional centre of Geelong, following the success of the initiative in Ipswich, Queensland.

He lashed out at Conservative Party health secretary Andrew Lansley.

"We are lacking real leadership in Britain, sadly, and it's killing us - literally," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"That whole government - they lack any imagination.

"They haven't done anything that will even touch what's been announced today."

Lansley and Oliver have traded insults for several years. Lansley has rejected Oliver's approach to health, saying lecturing people does not work.

Oliver has branded Lansley's plan to tackle obesity patronising rubbish and has signed a petition to drop the health secretary's controversial Health and Social Care Bill.

The celebrity chef said he hoped the messages at Ministry of Food centres spread across Australia and Britain.

He said children should be taught in schools about where food comes from, what it does to their bodies and how to make healthy eating choices.

Some children thought spaghetti grew on trees and jelly came from jellyfish, Oliver said.

"I don't really know of anyone that can threaten of an early death by not doing their geography homework.

"But if kids aren't taught about food, where it comes from and how it affects their body, then in essence we are doing them a massive disservice.

"In light of the statistics of bad health today, to not do anything would be child abuse."

Oliver said it was a myth that junk food was cheaper than fresh, healthy food prepared at home.

"All of the very best food in the world, the best dishes, have come from poor communities," he said.

Ministry of Food meals were one third cheaper than junk food to feed a family of four.

The course includes classes on how to prepare affordable, healthy meals with fresh produce and teach basic cooking skills, such as how to boil an egg.

By the end of the 10-week course, which costs A$10 (NZ$13) a week, participants cook a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings.

Victoria's Premier Ted Baillieu said he hoped the programme will help parents teach their children healthy eating habits.

"If he [Oliver] can help to help sell the message about healthy eating, healthy diet and healthy lifestyle, then I think its a good thing," Mr Baillieu said.

"It's important for young people to get that message as early as they can, but it's also powerful for parents to recognise that they have a responsibility to educate their kids."

Oliver has confirmed he plans to open restaurants in NZ.

- AAP

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