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The Evening News reported yesterday how a crackdown on sugary food in schools saw the council saying the stricter standards meant “bake sales by their very nature therefore will not comply” – though a spokesperson later said the sales could be allowed in certain circumstances, such as if they were held at the end of the day with parents buying items to take home.
But the Scottish Government suggested bake sales might not be affected at all, saying the requirements applied to food provided by schools and there were specific exemptions for food brought from home.
Parent Alison Payne, who helps organise bake sales at Towerbank Primary in Portobello once a term, said she was disappointed at the confusion.
"I had hoped it might just be a miscommunication but it appears there's quite a lot that's left open to interpretation which isn't particularly helpful to anyone.
“It's just about doing a fun thing that could raise a bit of money for the school.”
The Towerbank sales have taken place at break times with children able to choose a cake for 50p.
If that is not to be allowed, Ms Payne was not impressed with the alternative end-of-the-day idea. “It becomes more complicated. Kids don't always have parents with them, so are you not selling to children? Are you only allowed to sell to adults?”
The government view that bake sales are permitted fits with a line in the regulations which says, “Nothing in these Regulations applies to any food or drink provided by parents or pupils”.
But the council claims that means food provided by parents or pupils for their own consumption, whereas bake sales are providing food for others.
And it takes its stance from part of the guidance which says, under the heading “Who should use this guidance?": “Any other person who is involved in the provision of food and drinks in schools or on school premises, including voluntary and private organisations. For example parent councils, charity organisations or private providers running breakfast clubs, after school clubs or fund raising events.”
Ms Payne said: “It sounds like a piece of legislation that contradicts itself. It leaves it wildly open to interpretation. It’s far from clear.
“You would have thought one side or the other would have been able to say 'this is what the situation is'.
“And bake sales have long been known as a fundraiser, you would have thought when it was being passed someone might have asked if they were covered or not just for the sake of clarity.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Government guidance does not prevent bake sales. The regulations contain flexibility for social, cultural or recreational activities to be exempt from the standards which would allow for bake sales to be held.”
A council spokesperson said: “We will be updating schools on the latest statutory guidance from the Scottish Government on healthy eating in schools in due course.”