The Food Standards Agency - one of the public bodies which escaped last week's quango cull - has said that kids should not go wild food picking unsupervised because of health fears of bruised or damaged fruits.
The warning, which was published on the FSA website, says: 'It is autumn, and many of our hedgerows are prime sites for the traditional pursuits of gathering wild berries and hunting for mushrooms. This harvest can contribute to our daily diet, but care needs to be taken to make sure it is safe to eat.'
It then goes on to state: 'Don't allow children to pick or eat wild food unsupervised'.
The chairman of the Countryside Restoration Trust, Robin Page, branded the advice 'rubbish', saying children know what to avoid, and that supervision is a parental issue: 'People use their common sense not to eat what they don't recognise, so I don't see a need for this unnecessary rubbish. Children learn early on to stay away from mushrooms and their parents know when it is safe for them to do it unsupervised.Besides, in my parish I have never heard of anyone getting ill picking hedgerows. They are more likely to get ill at a Chinese restaurant.'
The author of It's Health and Safety Gone Mad!, Alan Pearce, agreed, saying: 'This demonstrates that it might be too late to reverse the health and safety culture in Britain, where the genie is out of the bottle. It would seem common sense that picking hedgerows is a good way to learn about what is dangerous and that advice isn't always in proportion to the risk.'
An FSA spokesperson defended the advice, saying the National Poison Information Service dealt with 209 enquiries relating to mushrooms this year, compared to 123 in the whole of last year.
What do you think of this story? Another case of 'elf and safety taking over from parental responsibility or sensible advice?
Do you remember the joys of blackberrying as a child?
Do you encourage your children to go blackberrying?