Key Points:

The monthly school sausage sizzle-fundraiser and high-fat pies are back on the menu as the new Government makes its mark on food policy.

National has scrapped Labour's regulation that required food and drink sold at state and state-integrated schools to be "only healthy options". But schools must still promote healthy food and drink.

Government guidelines on the regulation, which took effect last June, meant schools could sell "occasional foods" like sausage rolls, chocolate or deep-fried foods only once a term. That led to widespread tuckshop changes and restrictions on fundraising - ignored by some - with sausages.

Continuing too-frequent sales of items high in fat, sugar or salt risked Education Review Office censure. The ERO has not yet actually checked schools' performance, but of those it has asked, 90 per cent of primary schools and 97 per cent of high schools said they had complied.

All political parties are concerned about the rising obesity rate - it stands at 27 per cent of adults and 8 per cent of children - but they disagree on how to change eating habits.

National relies on education to change individuals' attitudes. Labour and the Greens tried to change attitudes by enforcing healthy change in the "food environment".

"The Government considers regulation in this area unnecessary," Education Minister Anne Tolley said yesterday in announcing her deletion of the Labour rule. "I believe boards of trustees should be able to make their own decisions about appropriate food and drink options... I am confident they will act responsibly."

Principals welcomed the change and some said they had defied the rule with frequent sausage fund-raisers.

They now expected sausage sizzles would be upped to monthly and that some unhealthy foods might return to canteens - but ruled out a wholesale return to fatty and sugary fare.

Some in the sector resented Labour's regulatory fix, but others credit it with speeding up canteen improvements already afoot.

"Now we've got our tuckshop all geared up for healthy food, the children are used to it and we'll be staying with it," said David Crickmer, principal of Bruce McLaren Intermediate in West Auckland.

And now his "conscience would be clear" about his weekly chocolate fish awards to pupils. "I can do it with no worries about the food police breathing down my neck."

Mt Albert Grammar headmaster Dale Burden said: "We got a little bit tired of every time they wanted to change something in society they legislated for it rather than educating for it. We educate our kids [about healthy food] and so should the parents."

But food supply reform campaigners lamented the rule's passing and said children would again be given conflicting messages on food.

"It is an astonishingly stupid move which will cost the nation dearly," said Green Party MP Sue Kedgley.

Obesity Action Coalition executive director Leigh Sturgiss said: "By enabling schools to once more sell foods like pies and chips at the canteen, we are sending our kids the message that it's okay to eat this sort of food every day."