No happy returns as school bans birthday cake

WELLINGTON Fri Apr 4, 2008 1:39pm EDT

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Children in a New Zealand school have been banned from bringing cakes to share on their birthdays, due to new government healthy eating guidelines.

Pupils at Oteha Valley primary school north of Auckland have been told they are allowed to celebrate their birthdays, but the cake must stay at home, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.

The Ministry of Education has been on a fat-busting crusade, introducing sweeping guidelines against unhealthy food in New Zealand schools.

Oteha Valley has a large number of pupils born in September and October, and there can be up to four cakes a week in some classes, principal Megan Bowden told the Herald.

It had gotten to the point where parents thought they were required to provide a cake for their child's birthday.

The school has advised parents in a newsletter to stop sending cakes to school from the next term.

A Ministry of Education spokesman told the Herald the government guidelines only applied to food sold on the premises, and schools did not need to monitor food brought in from outside.

(Reporting by Adrian Bathgate; Editing by Valerie Lee)

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