Could the much-loved charity cake bake be under threat?

Macmillan cake sale 2016

Macmillan cake sale 2016

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Fears have emerged for the future of the charity bake sale amid changes to food regulations across the county.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is currently holding talks as part of a wide-ranging review into its policies.

Dan Hill

Dan Hill

One of the changes that could be made is to ask home bakers to pay up to £300 to have their kitchens inspected.

The FSA insist it is one of many options being discussed as part of preliminary talks and no firm proposals have yet been tabled.

But charity bosses, including Daniel Hill, head of fundraising for the Rosemere Cancer Foundation at Royal Preston Hospital, said the charity could be “significantly affected” if such changes were brought in.

Others said it would be “heavy-handed” and are calling for proper consultation with charities before any decisions are made.

As a local charity we rely heavily upon local community groups and individuals who raise significant amounts of money through various activities including bake sales, fetes and community events where they sell baked goods.

Mr Hill said: “As a local charity we rely heavily upon local community groups and individuals who raise significant amounts of money through various activities including bake sales, fetes and community events where they sell baked goods. These activities form a very traditional part of community fundraising and have helped to raise a significant amount of money over the past 20 years for Rosemere.

“Rosemere could be significantly affected by these potential changes from the Food Standards Agency, as many of our supporters may be priced out of making baked goods to raise vital funds, which help ensure local patients get world class cancer care as close to home as possible. Any downturn in donations would inevitably impact our ability to fund the level of projects and services we currently do.”

The possible changes are part of the FSA’s ‘Regulating Our Future’ review and the agency is currently consulting with a number of parties. Normally, food inspection costs would be covered by business rates paid to the local borough council. But concerns have been raised that businesses, charities and fund-raisers could all become susceptible to the charges in future.

The FSA said a range of options are being looked at but insist no firm proposals have been made.

Rosemere volunteers Margaret Dunn and Norma Blackburn

Rosemere volunteers Margaret Dunn and Norma Blackburn

Garstang Country Markets, where products are made by members in their own kitchens or grown in their own gardens, has issued a survey in which they want businesses to “express in the strongest terms the consequences that this action will have on your business”.

These findings will be given to Food Solutions, a company representing small businesses in these preliminary talks, and presented at the next meeting to show the “strength of feeling”.

Malcolm Milner, of Garstang Country Markets said: “This could have the potential to ruin the market but it would also cause bigger problems. This could stop so many people who use their own time to bake goods for charities, meaning so many good causes could miss out.

“We understand the safety concerns but this just goes too far and we want to let them know how we feel before any decisions are made and it’s too late.”

Great Eccleston show Malcolm Milner of Garstang Country Market

Great Eccleston show Malcolm Milner of Garstang Country Market

The FSA are keen to state no changes have been finalised and claim it is wrong to “mislead” food businesses with the questionnaire circulating.

An FSA spokesman: “Plans for our future regulatory model for food and feed are very much under discussion and decisions on its design haven’t been reached. We are developing our plans in consultation with all those with an interest in food regulation, including our Expert Advisory Groups of which Food Solutions is a member.

“We therefore continue to invite views to help shape the design of the model, either via organisations like Food Solutions or through our dedicated email address.”

The dedicated email address is future delivery@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk. Interested parties can also follow progress by signing up to our ‘Regulating Our Future’ newsletter www.food.gov.uk

Regulation changes could have a ‘detrimental effect’

Stella Humpreys, head of income generation at Cancer Help Preston, said the potential changes in regulations could have a “detrimental effect”

“Charity cake and bake sales have always been a profitable way of fundraising for us and have become increasingly popular thanks to The Great British Bake Off inspiring people to bake,” she said.

“It is a way for our service users and supporters who might not be able to run marathons, to raise funds by running a coffee morning or selling c akes and put something back in the local community too.

“If charges are implemented by the FSA, this will certainly have a detrimental effect on this type of fundraising for us and many other charities including

Macmillan Cancer Support (whose world biggest coffee morning in 2014 raised in total over £25 mill).

‘It could seriously deter people from making things to raise money for charity’

And 68-year-old former caterer Margaret Dunn, from Penwortham, who regularly fundraises for Rosemere Cancer Foundation as well as others, says she would be worried if the charges were approved.

“It could seriously deter people from making things to raise money for charity,” she said. “Bake sales are a big source of income for charities but if people had to pay for their kitchen to be inspected it could put them off.

“They could go to the shops and buy things but I think people like making it. These charges would be very unrealistic.

“I can see the safety side of it because more people have more allergies these days and you don’t know anything about how or where that food has

been made.

“People often aren’t aware of how to store food or how long it can be out for so I can see a little sense behind it.