Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 19:00 UK

Marmite ban at school breakfasts


Marmite is off the menu in Ceredigion primary schools

Pupils in Ceredigion can no longer have Marmite on toast over claims the yeast extract spread contains too much salt.

Ceredigion Council said the popular spread was now off the menu at all 51 school breakfast clubs in the county because of the high level of salt.

Parents at Pontrhydfendigaid primary school expressed surprise at the move.

Makers of the century-old spread Unilever described the council's decision as "disappointing" and said the spread had only low levels of salt.

A spokesman for the Ceredigion village school admitted they would no longer be serving Marmite in the breakfast club after the salt content was highlighted.

"Breakfast clubs are intended to improve the health and concentration of children - to assist in the raising of standards of learning and attainment," said the spokesman.

Pontrhydfendigaid primary school
If they like the taste of Marmite and it encourages them to eat breakfast then that is a good thing
Parent at Pontrhydfendigaid school

"But anything served must be healthy and nutritionally balanced.

"Marmite is not included on the list of items as it does include a high level of salt.

"Low sugar marmalade or jam can be spread on toast, but lemon curd is not on the list of provisions."

About a third of the school's 60 pupils attend the breakfast club.

Head teacher Joyce George said she was aware that Marmite is now off the menu but said she has no input into the meals' contents.

They were organised instead by the county council catering department liaising with the school cook, she said.

Toppings for toast

A council spokesman said confirmed Marmite is now off the menu at all the county's breakfast clubs.

"The food items are based on guidance received from the Welsh Assembly Government," said the spokesman.

But a spokesman for the assembly government which funds breakfast clubs at schools throughout Wales, said they did not mention Marmite in their guidance.

"In terms of toppings for toast we indicate these are option and where required a low-fat polyunsaturated spread should be used and similarly a reduced sugar jam.

"Where toppings are provided, we would of course encourage schools to carefully consider what they make available to the children."

It is not harmful, and only a small amount is required to make toast tasty for children
Unilever spokesperson

Some parents at Pontrhydfendigaid criticised the decision.

One mother said: "It is the nanny state gone too far - generations of my family have grown up on Marmite.

"If they like the taste of Marmite and it encourages them to eat breakfast then that is a good thing."

A spokesperson for Unilever who make Marmite - a favourite since 1902 - said: "It is disappointing the council is not including Marmite in its items for breakfast clubs.

"It does contain salt and it is important that only small quantities are used for taste.

"But it is not harmful, and only a small amount is required to make toast tasty for children."

On Friday, the council said it was not its intention to single out any one food product as being unsuitable, the response "merely addressed the specific question asked of it".

A spokesperson said it had explained that Marmite was not included on the list of items that could be provided for school breakfasts.

Guidelines it had been given from the Welsh Assembly Government also allowed low sugar marmalade or jam to be spread on toast but not lemon curd. Sugar could be added to porridge but not cereal.

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