First it was Wi-Fi in schools that was causing the panic...now it's Alphabetti Spaghetti! read on....
Britain is in the grip of a healthy eating revolution with offices, homes and schools going nutrition conscious - but there is concern over the health risks. The Government says that school meals are healthier, but a Panderama investigation shows that children are exposed to significant emotional health risk in the dinner hall.
There have been no studies on the health effects of Alphabetti Spaghetti, but Panderama has uncovered that when served to school children it is possible that the spaghetti letters may be arranged to spell inappropriate words with the subsequent long term damage to children’s emotional welfare. An independent expert concluded that one standard serving of Alphabetti Spaghetti could contain as many as 9 inappropriate words.
Panderama visited a school in Stoneybridge, with more than 1,000 pupils, to compare the level of inappropriate words from a typical Alphabetti Spaghetti portion compared to that found in a portion of beans. Readings taken for the programme showed the number of words to be three times higher in the school dining hall.
The findings are particularly significant because children's brains are still forming and tests have shown they absorb more language than adults.
Panderama contacted 50 schools at random - and found only one had been warned of possible health risks. Senga Smith, a Dinner Lady, when told the facts by Panderama’s reporter, admitted with dismay that she had received no advice from her Local Authority on removing Alphabetti Spaghetti from the menu.
Dr Kevin Kenny, a marketing consultant, feels the scientific research was sufficient to apply a precautionary approach when serving Alphabetti Spaghetti in schools. Dr Kenny suggests: "We recommend, because we are sensitive about children... that Alphabetti Spaghetti should not necessarily be randomly directed on plates where children could be exposed."
"I am asking schools to consider very seriously whether they should be serving Alphabetti Spaghetti now and this will make them think twice or three times before they do." said Philip Phoggy, Professional Responsible Association of Teachers.
In a startling and even more concerning development, Panderama’s undercover investigators discovered that a small group of unsupervised pupils were maliciously creating inappropriate words from their spaghetti and leaving them on their plates. A school spokes person admitted that staff shortages made it difficult to protect pupils and staff from this risk.
Meanwhile, teachers have called for an investigation into whether there are any health risks from Alphabetti Spaghetti in schools.
The Professional Responsible Association of Teachers union is writing to the Education Minister to ask for a "full scientific investigation into the effects of Alphabetti Spaghetti in schools". Many primary and secondary schools serve Alphabetti Spaghetti - but the PRAT believes there is insufficient long-term evidence to demonstrate whether it is safe.
Panderama spoke to a number of scientists who questioned the risks and were concerned about the possible health effects of such exposure.
"If you look in the literature, you have a large number of various effects like emotional trauma, you have impact on the speed of consumption, decrease in short term food temperature and increases in the number of messaging incidences," said Professor Johan Johanson of the Carolina Institute in Finland.
Another scientist, Dr Gerd Gerderfeld, from Vienna is now calling for Alphabetti Spaghetti to be removed from schools.
He said: "If you go into the data you can see a very very clear picture - it is like a puzzle and everything fits together from phonetic structuring to the animal studies and up to the literary evidence; that shows for example increased creativity as well as increased use of language."
Panderama contacted Scientific Nutrition plc who provides managed nutrition services for schools. A spokes person for SN.plc stated that they had removed the risk to children by providing only SNWord Spaghetti. The Word Spaghetti is more expensive; however, it removes the possibility of pupils being creative with letters as the words are pre-formed. All words in SNWord Spaghetti have been approved for use at KS2 Literacy hour therefore is perfectly applicable for use in Scotlandshire. SN.plc also offered any Scotlandshire Local Authority a 5% discount on SNWord Spaghetti if the LA was to tag their product to Curriculum for Excellence.
One Local Authority has implemented a rigid security policy in all its schools. They have appointed an Alphabetti Manager who supervises the removal of letters which could be potentially used to create inappropriate words. The Senior Alphabetti Manager told Panderama that their policy has been an outstanding success in removing the potential of pupils creating words. She is prepared to share its denied letters list (currently only 18 letters) with others and is presenting on this development at the Scottish Learning Festival in September.
Parents groups will be concerned at this development; Agnes McAffe, mother of two pupils, at Stoneybridge School was appalled to find her children using inappropriate language at home. She blames the school and said “thir is nae way ma weans is doin skael dinners if ther gein oot spagiti …. frae noo oan they’ll be getin safe stuff frae the chip van an awl be teln awe ma mates tae.”
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