The ability of governments to create laws, which have ridiculous effects never, ceases to amaze me. The case of a primary school, which has had to cancel its fund raising cake sale due to health regulations, is a classic example of zeal gone to far.

Justice Louis D Braendis (1856-1941) summed up this sort of nonsense when he said “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding”. Whereas once upon a time Nanny would have been able to bake a cake for the school fete, today, the nanny state has made it an offense for nanny (or mum, dad or any other member of the school community) to do so.

National health regulations require that any cake sold, must be produced in a licensed kitchen. The school had to bring in private contractors to provide cakes at the fete and had to appeal to its local council for money to replace that which it will not get via the sale of donated cakes. Quite reasonably the professional bakers are not necessarily in a position to donate cakes to the school in the way that parents would.

No doubt the rationale behind these regulations will be that holy grail of safety. However you can get away with a lot by playing the “safety” card even if the issue has nothing to do with safety. The food act apparently requires that any cake with cream or cream icing must be prepared in a licensed kitchen.

Why exactly? It would be interesting to know how many deaths have there been from consumption of cakes bought at cake stalls in the last fifty years? Do we really think that mothers (or fathers) making cakes at home for their children or their children’s school are all totally incompetent.

Whilst I have nothing against professional cake makers it is more likely that cakes made at home will be preservative and additive free and be made with ingredients that you would find in an average home. Not too many people I know have E102 sitting on their pantry shelf.

So who is actually being protected here? Schools are robbed of fund raising revenue and then have to turn to government for funding that has been denied them by… government. The community aspect of people pitching in is lost and for what gain? Essentially so some bureaucrat can tick all his boxes and feel that the community has been saved from the dangers of unlicensed cake.

The next logical step is to ban any person cooking at home for their family or guests unless they have a license to do so. No doubt such a move could be introduced under the banner of ensuring safety.

Discouraging cooking at home done with passion and love using real ingredients whilst supporting the purchase of foods made in factories with preservatives and additives is just another way governments do anything other than support the health of the community.

By the way an occasional piece of cake especially a home made one is not an issue when it comes to childhood obesity.