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School bans home baking but allows store cakes

Parents at Bruntsfield Primary have lambasted the ban on home baking. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Parents at Bruntsfield Primary have lambasted the ban on home baking. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A SCHOOL has stunned parents by banning homemade cakes from the classroom over child safety fears.

The decision has left parents of children at Bruntsfield Primary scratching their heads, sparking calls for it to be reversed.

In this month’s newsletter parents are warned against supplying homemade cakes or baked goods for children’s birthday parties due to fears over food allergies. The ruling says manufactured cakes are allowed but rules out home baking.

Comment: We should be encouragint kids to try baking

It is believed the practice of children sharing out cake had become common at the school. It is not thought the edict is in response to a specific problem or a child taking ill and it only centres on the primary, not wider schools in the city.

Despite this, parents have been quick to lambast the ruling as nanny-stateism gone mad, and have found an influential backer in the shape of BBC2’s Great British Bake Off star Paul Hollywood, 47, who has branded it “ridiculous”.

One mum-of-two at the school, who declined to be named, said: “This is health and safety gone mad and seems a very silly thing to be sending out to parents.”

A second parent said the policy sends out a mixed message, as the primary has been “more than happy” to benefit from bake sales in the past.

She said: “Many parents spend a huge amount of time preparing things to sell at bake sales and school fetes. All the money from the baked goods goes to playground improvements, whiteboards, iPads and all sorts of things that the school appreciates having. It seems to be sending out the message they are happy to profit from home baking but don’t want cake to shared among the children.”

Celebrity chef Paul Hollywood, left, joined master bakers and baffled parents to condemn the move which he said helped educate budding bakers in “basic science”.

“It is ridiculous that home-made baked goods are not being allowed,” he said. “Not only are these made at home with full knowledge of the ingredients going in, they are also often made with the pupil at home, thus teaching them many skills, not only cooking, but measuring, weighing and basic science, none of which can be learnt when buying a baked good from a 
supermarket.”

Melanie Andrews, of the Scottish Homebaking Awards, also poured scorn on the school policy, saying she was “shocked and appalled”.

“The allergy claim is not even a relevant argument because the same can be said for any supermarket product which often says on the label that there may be traces of nuts,” she said. “In my view large manufacturing plants are more likely to see nuts and other ingredients sneak into products than in someone’s kitchen at home.”

The home baking ban comes seven months after traces of horsemeat were detected in beef meant for six city primary schools.

Councillor Melanie Main, education spokeswoman for Edinburgh Greens, said the new scenario “rings hollow” in light of the scandal.

A council spokesman said schools take a commonsense approach “as many pupils can have reactions to certain food ingredients like peanuts, eggs and soya”. He said: “Food purchased from shops comes clearly labelled which means the ingredients can be checked before eating them to ensure they are allergy free.”

‘WE OUGHT TO BE ENCOURAGING YOUNG PEOPLE TO BAKE’

Isobel Robertson, national chairwoman of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes, said the move was a “great disappointment”.

She said: “We ought to be encouraging young people to learn how to bake, not perpetuating a myth that baking comes off a production line in a factory. If pupils source their own ingredients and bake them, or if they are involved in the process with an adult, they are able to appreciate and enjoy the outcome so much more. Pupils are going to miss out on home-made flavours which often surpass the flavours of mass produced supermarket products.”

Christopher Freeman, president of the Craft Bakers Association, said the decision was “surprising” and “overkill”.

 

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