School fair’s homemade buns ban causes a stir

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PARENTS of pupils at a Sheffield primary school were taken aback to receive letters banning them from taking homemade buns and cakes to the Christmas fair.

Gleadless Primary headteacher Valerie Fowles told parents they could only donate the homemade fare if they had valid food and hygiene certificates.

Mrs Fowles said the ban was down to a new council ruling – although it was still fine to bring in alcoholic drinks to the event.

But the council said its guidelines had been misinterpreted by the school and were meant to apply to contract caterers.

It would be offering advice to the school.

In a letter to parents, Mrs Fowles explained: “Due to new regulations we can only accept donations of homemade cakes and buns from people who have a food and hygiene certificate.”

Parents were bewildered, calling it ‘a load of twaddle’ and ‘bonkers’. “It’s health and safety gone mad,” said one.

Barbara Atkinson, at school to pick up her granddaughter, said it was a tradition for parents to bake cakes for school events. “I think it is ridiculous - though I know some schools allow homemade produce and some don’t,” she said.

The mother of a six-year-old pupil said: “I know it’s all about the children’s safety but no one’s ever been hurt eating homemade cakes.

“The school’s going a bit too far.”

But Rebecca Poole, who has a son, Callum, at the school, said she supported the head.

“I think it’s a good idea, I like to know that everything at school will be clean and safe,” she said

Council officials said that the guidance issued was supposed to apply to large outside contractors who sometimes cater for a major event.

“It wasn’t meant to refer to mums and dads volunteering to bake at home for school fairs and the like, and we will be telling the school this,” one source added.

Council service manager Steve Clark said: “Guidance about food hygiene was issued to let schools know about best practice when holding events where food is brought in. “These type of school events vary greatly from big summer barbecues to some mince pies at Christmas.

“We issued this in good faith, but in light of feedback from schools we will be reviewing the guidance and reassuring schools that it is fine for them to continue to use common sense when inviting parents to contribute food to events.”

Mrs Fowles insisted the advice to parents had followed the council’s guidelines.

She said: “The last thing we wanted to do was ban anyone from bringing homemade cakes to the Christmas fair so I am delighted that the local authority policy which we followed is being reviewed.”