Edinburgh parents fear school bake sales under threat in strict new crackdown on sugar

Bake sales are under threat at Edinburgh primary schools as part of a strict new crackdown on sugar.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 4:55 am

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Updated Scottish Government guidance on nutritional requirements for food and drink in schools aim to "reduce the amount of sugar which can be accessed in schools".

But the council insists there is not a total ban on bake sales and the popular fundraisers could still take place “in certain circumstances”.

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Parents at Towerbank Primary in Portobello who hold bake sales once a term to raise money for the school were worried when they heard there was to be a ban.

One mother Alison Payne, who has been helping organise the bake sales for four years, said: "We have them three times a year in the playground at break time and it's '50p Friday'. Parents do home baking and the kids get to decide what to spend their money on. They usually raise about £700 each time.”

During Covid lockdown they continued the fundraising with virtual bake sales and even produced the Towerbank bake sale recipe book.

When a councillor inquired on their behalf about the alleged ban, officials said the new regulations extended the guidance “to cover the whole school day, including wider events in order to ensure consistent messages were given to pupils”.

Bake sales are a popular way to raise money for schools.

They said: "The standard for sweetened and baked products is very restricted around sugar content and no confectionery is permitted at all.

"Bake sales by their very nature therefore will not comply and do not align with the ethos of health promoting schools."

And they added: "Many parents do not wish their children to be exposed to situations such as bake sales where high sugar items are available."

Ms Payne said a ban was a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

She said: "We've had two this year and raised almost £1,500 for the school at a time when fundraising options are limited.

"As a parent we just want to do something that's a bit of fun, brings the community together, raises a bit of money for the school.

"I get that eating cake all the time is not the best thing in the world for you, but it's one a term, not everyone needs to participate, there's no pressure on anyone."

When the Evening News approached the council, a spokesperson said: “Bake sales are allowed in certain circumstances as long as they comply with the updated Scottish Government guidance. These new regulations focus on Scottish dietary goals and one of the key themes is reducing the amount of sugar which can be accessed in schools which many parents support. Bake sales which comply with Scottish Government’s healthy eating in schools guidance can take place.”

He said an example of a bake sale that would be allowed was at the end of the school day when items are sold to parents and taken home for eating, meaning parents or carers were taking responsibility for how much is being consumed.

However, the Scottish Government suggested its regulations might not apply to bake sales at all. A spokesman said: "The national guidance is clear that the nutritional standards apply to food provided by schools and education authorities. There are specific exemptions to the requirements for food brought from home and for celebratory events.”

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