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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
ITV rapped for baby feeding joke
Babies usually drink milk only until they are six months old
Complaints about an ITV children's show which encouraged young viewers to feed lemon juice to babies have been upheld by communications watchdog Ofcom.

The Ministry of Mayhem showed a baby fed a teaspoon of juice, before the presenter said: "Do it on your brothers and sisters as it's very, very funny."

Programme maker Carlton said the juice was not harmful to babies.

While Ofcom agreed, it said it was concerned that children might imitate the stunt with more harmful substances.

"We were particularly concerned that a presenter of a children's programme should encourage children to feed a baby at all," said Ofcom.

"We believe that there is an inherent danger in encouraging children to feed babies (irrespective of the substance). We also felt there could be a risk of children imitating the stunt with more harmful substances, " the watchdog continued.

Two viewers had complained to the media regulator after the Saturday morning show was aired on 10 January.


At the end of the clip, one of the presenters told viewers that the stunt was safe because the nine-month-old baby was a doctor's child.

Carlton said it mentioned the baby was a son of a doctor to show that if a doctor was content, it would reassure the audience it was safe.

"No harm would come to any child who swallowed lemon juice as it is merely a highly flavoured natural food, like salt and pepper," said the company.

It said it did not feel the sequence was "dangerous enough, unusual enough or alluring enough to raise a real risk that the scene was likely to encourage harmful imitative behaviour in children".

Ofcom upheld the complaints under the programme code, which requires broadcasters to take particular care with "material, including comic treatments, which may lead children to fail to recognise potentially dangerous play especially where there is no serious outcome."

Ministry of Mayhem replaced SM:TV in January.

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