Nanny State prevents Mums Bakes

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Nanny State prevents Mums Bakes

One of the things I loved about school days were cake sales!
Walking to school clutching an old quality street tin filled with the delicious gooey flapjacks that my mum had lovingly made. (You won’t find a better flapjack than my mums!) Showing the contents proudly to my teacher and beaming with pride as she exclaimed how yummy they looked.
Helping to set up the table with scrumptious goodies, standing back to peruse the rickety trestle table groaning under the weight of mountains of Fairy Cakes, Butterfly Cakes, Millionaires Shortbread, Rice Krispie Cakes, bright Iced Biscuits all just below eye level and tempting us to reach out and snaffle as many as possible. Then savouring every last crumb of the treats you had chosen to buy with your 50p.

Late last night my son told me his year were holding a cake sale the following day (such an organised boy – he clearly gets it from me :) ) I asked which of my cakes he would like me to contribute for him. I had visions of making all kinds of deliciousness ready for the following day, baking for events like that is the best kind of baking, and I was itching to get started. But he just looked at me dumbfounded and said “No mum, we have to take in prepackaged cakes from a shop, and then when we get to school we’ll unpack them and sell them like that.”  
Can you believe that? What a crazy idea! Lets face it, we all know how much better home baked cakes are to shop bought and a bake sale is one of the only times that many of us get to sample “truly made at home with love” cakes and biscuits at a good price. 
Having spoken with the teachers, and to parents with kids at other schools, it came to light that these days this is the norm. Gone are the days where mums can feel they’re doing their bit to lovingly bake something for the children and here are the days where prepackaged over processed foods are pushed towards our kids instead! Are home baked cakes going to become bootlegged in schools? It certainly feels that way; when talking it over with friends many suggested I rebel and make them anyway, or replace the cakes in the packaging with home made ones and repackage them. 

Not only are home made cakes disallowed but even with me being registered, insured and licensed to sell cakes to the public (a retailer of cakes and baked goods) I am not allowed to provide cakes for the sale because I am still a home baker….. Does my 5 star inspection rating and relevant food hygiene qualifications count for nothing?  
This is yet another case of health and safety gone mad, the nanny state has decided it is safer to feed the kids the cakes with shed loads of additives in them than to let them choose from an array of home baked tasty cakes consisting of, on average, 5/6 ingredients.
Please note that I am in no way holding the school responsible for this farcical decision, my childrens school is wonderful, it is the same school I attended (where those aforementioned wonderful memorable bake sales were held) and the level of  support and education is second to none. Having spoken with the teachers here and at other schools I would say that most, if not all, teachers feel this is a ridiculous decision. 
Cakes and baked goods are a low risk food group, unless they contain fresh cream, surely a better option would be to ask the parents to bring in cakes without cream or nuts in them and to label the ingredients. Or at the very least allow professional home bakers to make cakes for the sale. I would have happily churned out a dozen chocolate cupcakes, a dozen butterfly cakes, 2 dozen flapjacks, a few caramel tray bakes and more, but as it stands I reluctantly bought some Viennese Whirls, Mini Victoria Sponges and some French Fancies, it truly felt like a part of me died whilst I stood in that cake aisle choosing these over processed cakes. Very sad to think those important childhood bake sale memories won’t be there for my son and daughter. Strange when we are all supposed to be working together to advocate home cooking and baking that we are teaching them to reach for the packaged tat instead.  

If some parents dislike baking and want to provide prepackaged cakes then great, but to those who enjoy it part of the fun is baking for these wonderful sales which are ingrained in our childhood memories, surely with guidelines in place we should be allowed to carry on this tradition?
Is your childs school one of the ones that has banned the sale of home baked cakes? What are your thoughts?

44 Responses to “Nanny State prevents Mums Bakes”

  1. Laura Edwards says:

    Crazy isn’t it! And upsetting! I was looking forward to the days when I could bake all manner of delights for the school functions…

  2. Nicola says:

    A lot of local schools here have BANNED homemade birthday cakes for school. Every year we would take a small cake to school on our birthdays (or a day close to it) which would be given out to the whole class but now its all health and safety etc stopping it. Some schools allow you to take a shop bought cake while others have banned them all together as part of the ‘healthy eating’ campaign (as we all know 30 small slices fo cake across a year is bad for you!)

  3. Annie says:

    Dont get me started on school bake sales! I was asked to bake some cupcakes to sell at my kids’ school Christmas fair last month. Which I did, no problem. I loved doing it.
    I was also asked if I would bake and decorate a Christmas cake which was going to be a raffle prize. I said of course I would! And as the money was all going towards the school, I said I didn’t want anything for doing it.
    Well the raffle came and went, and no cake was won. I asked the member of staff where the cake was, and she PROUDLY told me that it had sold for £5!
    It cost me nearly £30 to make. I was heartbroken. I could have given the school a tenner, and we’d both have been quids in.

  4. Laura Edwards says:

    It’s maddening isn’t it?? Thankfully our school still allows for home baked treats to be taken in for birthdays, but it is so sad that many have stopped that as well.

  5. This sort of pish makes me so cross!! There is no ‘health and safety’ law that says that schools and organisations can’t sell home made cakes – schools are just hiding behind the whole ‘nanny state’ thing in order to chose the option that is easiest for them!!! The parents and children buy the cakes in full knowledge of where they come from and the schools have public liability insurance in the unlikely event that something goes wrong. I don’t ever recall reading any headlines along the lines of ‘whole school wiped out by home made flapjack’, such ridiculous nonsense Grrrrrrrr!

    DS’s school is wonderful – we bake cakes for events, he can take his own homemade birthday cake in and….wait for it…… they are even allowed to play conkers!! I feel blessed :-)

  6. Laura Edwards says:

    Julie – I feel jealous!! LOL
    I just sooo want to make cakes for the school cake sale, is that too much for us parents to ask?
    Love the comment about the destructive forces of the flapjack ;) xx

  7. Laura Edwards says:

    OH NO Annie!! £5!! That’s hugely disheartening – yet one of those other issues we bakers have to deal with – peoples assumptions on how much our cakes of art cost to make!

  8. Joanne says:

    Very sad as home made much tastier, suppose they would rather we fed our kiddies with all the nasty hidden additives & preservatives! :(

  9. Laura Edwards says:

    That’s what I can’t get my head around Joanne?

  10. suzie says:

    love this blog laura ! very well said x

  11. What a sad missguided generation of kids we are bringing up! Ask a child where eggs come from and they say the supermarket!.My daughter is a primary school teacher and the restrictions on what kids can bring in is crazy! For kids parties they can only bring in packaged rubbish like crisps and biscuits! I remember so well the sausages on sticks that I took in stuck to a half and apple! Did anyone get poisoned..no……..did anyone get an eye dug out with the stick…..no…….
    Times have changed and its so so sad! I clearly remember at the kids school fairs the homemade cake stand always sold out first before anything else!!
    I truly believe our kids are missing out on such an important part of growing up.Cooking and baking = love and sharing….

  12. jani says:

    Sorry but the school IS to blame here. The food hygiene laws in the UK are specifically drafted in a way that protects things like school cake sales. You are able to sell food cooked in an ‘unregistered’ kitchen up to five times a year. My understanding is that this means five times a year PER KITCHEN. This school and this article blame “the State” – there’s a possibility the local Council or even their insurers have insisted on this measure, but the law does not ban school cake sales!

  13. Laura Edwards says:

    Thanks Suzie :)

  14. Laura Edwards says:

    Agree with all you said Sally, the love and sharing element is sadly lacking. There are going to be no incidents with cocktail sticks or a stray cake crumb?!? Times have sadly changed

  15. Laura Edwards says:

    I agree Jani, I do believe that this is down to the local council or the insurers poking their oar in here. I am torn between my great relationship with the school and the teachers (who for the most agree with me on this matter) and the stupidity of this law :/

  16. Wendy says:

    So sorry to read this post Laura, I absolutely agree with everything you’ve said. I’m glad to say that I’ve not experienced this problem at the schools which my girls attend, and they actually look forward to the number cookies I make to be handed out to the whole class when it’s their birthday.

    I was also aware of the regulation surrounding “unregistered” kitchens as my WI provide the tea and cakes at our village carnival, and I’m the only one of around 40 members who bake mountains of cake for that event whose kitchen is registered.

  17. Ann-Marie says:

    My school banned home made due to the amount of kids with allergies, cos if the kids ate something they shouldnt and had a bad reaction, who is to blame? The school or the mum that baked? Think of the lawsuit. Whereas packet stuff has all ingredients listed, so if the kids know what they cant have, then the teachers can help them to avoid it.

    On the other hand, we wont be taking as much in with pre-packed cakes due to the cost, so is it possibly the ‘obesity brigade’ in disguise??

    Plus, no offence intended or implied – I have seen the kitchen of a council certified 5 star rating. (It must have been clean for that one day only, and refused to order anything!) Is the kitchen actually clean where the cakes were made? Food poisoning claim for 30 kids isnt one the school would want to deal with.

  18. Katie says:

    I definitely feel in the minority here, all I do is seem to bake cakes for my daughters’ school and pre school. They are forever holding bake sales, I have two next week ! The only proviso is they are nut free as one of the children has a nut allergy. Health and safety must have escaped us down here in Sussex !

  19. Laura Edwards says:

    I completely understand your stance on this and no offence taken at all. However, if I were to keep my kitchen in a less than 5 star rated cleanliness, then I would not feel confident in selling cakes to the general public for big events such as weddings where I will be feeding upwards of 100 cakes. Some fast food joints and other kitchens may not care about how clean the kitchen is but I know many many home bakers nationwide who each pride themselves on the cleanliness of their kitchen and are paranoid at keeping it spotlessly clean.
    Also as stated in the blog cakes are a low risk food group and there are still many schools nationwide that allow the sale of homebaked goods.
    This is also the reason why parents should be allowed a choice to take in either shop bought or home baked so that any kids with allergies would have a choice, the choice has been taken out of the parents hands in this instance. That is what I find to be unfair.

  20. Laura Edwards says:

    I am feeling in the minority, as the more I look into it, there are still plenty of schools who allow home baking. I agree with the no nut sentiment and unfortunately there may be someone with a severe nut allergy at the school who would not be able to consume cakes of any kind for fear of even the slightest particle being present. However, most shop bought cakes contain nuts or are produced in a factory where nuts are also processed.
    The parents of children with severe allergies unfortunately have to make provisos for this and often bake special cakes for their children to err on the side of caution.

  21. Helen Edgar says:

    I think it is the school that is to blame here. If most of the teachers seem to think that it is ridiculous maybe this decision has been imposed on them by the head or other senior members of staff, or even the governing body. Perhaps you should ask some more questions. Living in the same city as you Laura I know that my son’s school is quite happy for home baked cakes and biscuits to be taken in. Also several of the schools that I have worked in have not had a problem with cakes made at home and some have even let the children bake the cakes in school to sell.

  22. Laura Edwards says:

    There also seems to be double standards going on as the school and the teachers prefer home baked biscuits or cakes to be taken in for childrens birthdays rather than packets of sweets. Yet when it is a cake sale they insist on this?

  23. Lisa says:

    As a food tech teacher I am disgusted by this. With all the legislation that is in place to encourage our children to eat healthily we then encourage pre-packaged bake (shop bought) sale. What’s the point! Thankfully we regularly have our own bake offs at school and sell our products to fund raise. More than ever we need to be raising children who can cook (and bake) good wholesome, healthy and economic food. Something needs to be done! How can the writer sell to the public but not school. I would encourage other parents to buy her baked goods! They’re packaged surely!

  24. Laura Edwards says:

    I think this is proving to be the case Helen, there are a few schools that are insisiting this is the case across the country, but it seems that most still allow home baked goods. I will be asking to speak with the headmaster at some time this week to discuss the matter further. Thanks for your input – at least we now know this is not down to the LEA in Coventry. Makes me even more incensed that certain schools are taking it into their own hands with no actual governing law.

  25. Laura Edwards says:

    Thank you Lisa! This is what seemed crazy to me, yes my cakes are packaged, albeit not in sealed plastic wrap. But I sell cupcakes to the public in cupcake boxes so why could I not provide the school with these very cakes that I regularly sell to others? Legally!!

  26. I agree with you that this is really a shame. I am a regular contributor to bake sales at my kids’ school and I would be disappointed if next time around I was told “store-bought cakes only.” In fact, I was just laughing with a friend yesterday who doesn’t bake — parents had been solicited to make crepes for tomorrow’s celebration (called Le Chandelur here in France). She didn’t receive any note about this in her son’s correspondence book. Not only did I get the note but the teacher flagged the page in my book with a yellow post-it note to be sure I didn’t miss their plea!

    Like you, I have deeply fond memories of my school’s bake sales when I was a child, and I am always first with my hand up to participate at my kids’ school. There is some great advice here – will you petition the school to rethink their policy?

  27. Laura Edwards says:

    Thanks for your input Cat, lovely to hear from you :)
    I was so disheartened because I would prefer to feel like my skills could be an asset to the bake sales; they would have got about 5 times the amount of cakes from me to help raise funds.
    You’re right the advice and thoughts on this have been brilliant and I do plan to petition the schools policy on this matter xx

  28. Kelly says:

    I am outraged at the way our schools are conducting themselves these days… Bake Sale for you and for me it was being told that the home made cupcakes I baked to celebrate my daughters birthday were not allowed to be given out at school due to the healthy eating policy set by the school governors.. I was not to be beaten by this.. So after school my daughter and I stood with our banned cupcake boxes and we asked each parent if their child would be allowed a cupcake.. Not on of them objected.
    I then went home and put pen to paper and wrote a letter to the governors stating that a healthy eating policy is great but if thats the case why are my children offered cake and custard 3 lunchtimes out of the 5!! And as the school is Catholic I also touched on why we are not allowed to celebrate the birthdays of our children with cake when in fact we celebrate the birth of Christ with Christmas Cake!!!
    Needless to say I did not get a reply from the SChool Governors..
    What is the world coming to!!!

  29. Laura Edwards says:

    That’s ridiculous – good on you for writing to the schools governers, they clearly could not defend their daft actions credulously, hence their declination to comment!

  30. Liz says:

    I’m relieved to say that no such madness has yet reached the most southerly point of mainland Britain. Here in The Lizard, Cornwall we STILL take home baked goodies into school in fact, it’s encouraged!

  31. Lesley says:

    What a very sad state of affairs :( As the previous reply says….what is this world coming too!!

  32. Avarycce says:

    I remember the bake sale being home made by my parent and other parents. We had to bring money to buy things and if my mom’s food wasn’t out on display I was forced to buy someone else’s and had to just throw it in the trash because I could not eat it. I have a milk allergy, and could not trust that someone else had used a dairy free margarine or their icing didn’t have cream in it. More allergies are being recognized now for what they are… and more children currently have allergies.

    Unfortunately there is a good side and bad side to homemade. A list of ingredients always come with store bought, so people with allergies can avoid those foods. Some families just are not as sanitary as your family may be and your child may get sick from eating bad food someone else had made. And in one of my classes one of the kids parents made brownies, who we found out later had an illegal substance baked into it. Preservatives or not, maybe sometimes it is not as bad as other alternatives?

  33. becky says:

    noooooooooooooooooo !!!! all us cake ladies should go and protest outside the office for whoever is responsable lol, whoever it is was obviously deprived of taking lovely home baked cakes into school as a childl. The world has gone mad, first glitter and now this week can’t get much worse !!

  34. Nat says:

    It is unbelieveable… my son’s school is very good also but they can take health n safety to the extreme too. They refuse to heat up milk because it is also a risk so kids drink cold milk even in winter. What is worse, they take the milk out a few hours before serving as that is a safer method to “warm it up” to room temp… hello? What about growing bacteria once milk is out of the fridge? Nuts

  35. Krysia says:

    I am very lucky! My sons school welcomes baked products for the sales! and not only that for those who prefer not to bake they ask for ingredients to be donated, For the last 2 sales I have brought 2 carrier bags of stuff ho,e to turn into cakes for the sale.

  36. Laura Edwards says:

    The FSA guidance on selling home baking on school stalls states: “Home-made cakes should be safe to eat, as long as the people who make them observe good food hygiene, and the cakes are stored and transported safely.”

    Microbiologist Hugh Pennington told BBC Scotland that the ban was going too far.

    “This is food that is pretty safe actually unless it’s got cream fillings or that kind of stuff, but if it’s home baked scones or bread or something like that it’s about as safe a food as you can get,” he said.

    “They’re not taking any chances even if the risk is so vanishingly low that you can almost laugh at it.

    “Perhaps a bit a OTT.”

  37. Kirstine Fuller says:

    The world is slowly going mad :( bring back the old school days for our children to see what a great time we had!

  38. I cannot believe this!
    We regularly have an end of term cake sale to raise funds for my youngest boy’s pre-school. Some mums do bring in shop bought cakes but we have plenty of mums, like myself, who relish in setting to and baking a few dozen yummy cakes.

  39. Kelly, I’m sorry you were not able to take in cakes for your girl’s birthday. I do it for both of my boys and sometimes take choc crispies for those children who have allergies. The teachers love it as I always take extra and I take cakes to school meetings too sometimes!

  40. Karen says:

    I hate this sort of thing.

    Why not get a response from the LEA, and then take that back to the school?
    If there is something in writing about it being OK it’s got to be a lot harder to defend their lazy position.

  41. Anne Burns says:

    I totally agree that the “nanny state” has gone mad – I also think that a homemade cake made with flour, butter, sugar and eggs is far less harmful to a child than some of the dreadful cakes that you can buy in supermarkets that are full of preservatives, additives and, even worse hydrogenated fats which in many EU countries are banned because they are so dangerous and have been linked to cancer. It really annoys me that a school thinks selling homemade cakes is worse than this – if someone at home can be bothered to buy the ingredients and make the cakes I am guessing that they are also the sort of people that would think about giving their kitchen a clean before they did it. It’s also a matter of choice, if a parent didn’t want their child to eat homemade cake they can choose not to send them with any money – my guess is very few parents would deny their child a homemade cake once in a while and I would certainly prefer my child to eat a homemade cake than the awful crap full of palm oil and similar ingredients from supermarkets!!! As you can probably tell the “nanny state” completely infuriates me – the world has gone mad and taken a lot of the enjoyment out of childhood with it!!!

  42. Anne says:

    We have a cake stall at our fetes and have also started doing them during term to raise funds. I think the school is most concerned about children with allergies so we have to sell them after school when they are in the care of their parents. And at the fetes they are also under their parents’ supervision. Why not suggest this as a compromise? The school then can’t be at fault if anyone becomes ill (which I’ve never heard of anyone being). Your cake stall will then be swamped and sell out within 15 minutes. We also do the same with icelollies every Friday after schoo during the summer. It’s completely manic for 10 minutes and then it’s over. The kids love it and we make £20-25 a time which soon adds up.

  43. Vikki says:

    I have very mixed feelings about this whole thing.

    I’m in no way a professional baker, but I’m certainly several steps above the average mother for my kids school, most of whom find it impossible to change out of their nightwear to take their children to school… I’m not joking, they line up outside in all in one fluffy PJs and slippers. My children actually get bullied in school because when filling in their food diaries in school, they aren’t writing “fish fingers and chips” and the likes each day.

    Would I want my children eating something produced by these women? Would I trust that women who can’t be bothered to get dressed before leaving the house have adequate cleaning at home? Probably not.

    I however, can get dressed of a morning. I bake fresh bread daily for packed lunches for my children and husband, they have fresh baked muffins to take with them as a treat once a week in place of the usual fruit. I get away with it only because lunch is supervised by what I remember as being typical dinner ladies, ready to pounce and scream at you until you cry the second you speak, let alone try to swap some of your food with the kid next to you.

    It was the school summer sale last weekend, and I walked out.

    Food rules included: No home baked goods, all baked goods were to be sent in original, unopened packaging, items from the freshly baked sections of Asda (for example) were completely prohibited as they often involve parents having touched the items prior to putting them in the packaging and the packaging was not sealed, only fruit in plastic bags was allowed, no net type bags like you get for oranges… It went on, but you get the point.

    Oh well, I’ll go anyway, the kids will enjoy it none the less I thought.

    I arrived, walked to the back of the room to find the tombola (with tickets available to children for a mere 20p) stacked high with alcohol, ranging from cans of Fosters to bottles of Whiskey!

    So, health and safety won’t let me give them a bag of oranges or some lovely blueberry muffins, but sending my kids home with a bottle of whiskey isn’t a problem?

    Whoever is responsible for this decision, be it the school, health and safety or the insurance companies, they need to seriously think again about how it is being applied.

    There are 4 children in this school with serious nut allergies, and one who has gelatine and several other allergies on top of that… Each event and each birthday, they sit back and watch their friends tucking in while they go without, all because we’re forced to purchase items produced in unsafe environments.

    I can usually be found on birthdays stood outside the school gates catching the parents of these poor children, handing over their own special treats I’ve made for them so they don’t have to miss out. The parents are always grateful, and more than once there’s been tears.


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