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30 July 2013, 07:53
A 12-year-old girl from the Isle of Wight has been banned from taking her mother's home-made cakes into school - because she didn't have a food hygiene certificate.
Georgie Hippolite had told her teacher at Cowes Enterprise College that she intended to bring in cakes baked by her mum, Kirsty, to sell at a charity fund-raiser.
That prompted the staff member to phone their home and check on whether they held the safety certificate normally handed to catering professionals.
Mrs Hippolite, a mother of five girls, said:
"Georgie's teacher had asked the children whether any parents were willing to send in cakes and she had said: 'My mum will make some.'
"Two days later, her teacher rang up asking if I had a food hygiene certificate because they couldn't sell the cakes without one.
"I said no, because I just bake at home, I do not bake professionally. He explained that unfortunately it would mean he would be personally liable if anything went wrong with any of the children that ate them.
"But he said that so they wouldn't go to waste, we could take them in and sell them to the teachers.''
The 39-year-old full-time mother said:
"I felt, 'how bizarre'. I thought it was a joke. Has health and safety got to the point where you cannot bring home-baked cakes into school?
"If you went to all the effort of making the cakes you are generally going to be clean at home.
"I feel it's a traditional thing to sell home-baked cakes. You think of village fetes and (the) WI, and I thought how bloody ridiculous this was. Georgie felt how strange it was.''
"I wasn't cross at the school. I wouldn't want them to feel I was hounding them, I felt sorry on their behalf, that there must have been some change in legislation.''
Headteacher James Stewart said:
"In the last six weeks all our form groups have been responsible for organising a charity function. This has involved tug of war, guess the number of sweets in a jar, a rounders competition and numerous other activities.
"Cakes have also been sold by pupils, although we have been advised that it is good practice to make sure they have been prepared by a person who has a food hygiene certificate or they have supervised the preparation of the cakes.
"Clearly the safety of our students is of paramount importance so we have followed the recommended guidance. Pupils were still able to sell their cakes. Pupils have also made cakes at school in the food technology area and sold these when they have been supervised by qualified staff.
"Home-baked cakes which were not sold were left in the staff room, where staff could leave a donation. Well done to all our pupils in raising money for their chosen charities.''
Bill Murphy, Isle of Wight Council head of planning and regulatory services said:
"While it is indeed accurate that generally people preparing food for public consumption must be registered with the Environmental Health department, parents making the occasional cake to sell at a school event do not need to be registered.
"I am sure, though, that the teacher clearly had the best of intentions for the health and safety of their students.
"The council is very keen to support community events such as school fetes or village fairs, and our environmental health service is more than happy to provide advice and guidance to organisers to ensure their day goes ahead with no problems.''