Knox council in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne has placed a ban on children bringing homemade cakes to school to share in classroom birthday parties. The West Australian reports the action being taken by the council are a health and safety measure to ensure all food shared in the classroom meets suitable food hygiene standards as well as safeguarding children from being exposed to certain common food allergens such as peanuts. The ban states that children are still permitted to bring homemade food to school in their own lunch, but the food is not to be shared with other pupils.
Under the new rules, children are also no longer able to use toilet rolls and egg cartons in school craft activities for fears these items may pose hygiene risks as well as the possibility of egg traces left on cartons, which some children may be allergic to.
Parents in the Knox area have responded to the new enforcements with an overwhelmingly negative reaction. The Herald Sun noted the reactions from several parents, one saying, “No wonder so many kids get allergies – they’re not allowed to touch anything these days.” Other comments say the action had brought the country one step closer to being a “nanny-state.” The Victorian minister for health, David Davis, agrees and has said the new guidelines are needlessly strict. “There’s a clear need to ensure that we have safety and security in our child care centers, and particularly high standards of food handling,” he said. “However, these have to be practical, they have to be sensible, they have got to be grounded in the real world.”
Some parents have voiced their approval for the new measures, particularly in terms of protecting children from food allergens. The news of the local ban on homemade cakes comes after the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council banned children from blowing out birthday candles at school parties in an effort to decrease the spread of germs.