THE traditional cake stall, a major fundraiser for churches and schools for decades, is facing the knife from health regulators. The state Government and city councils are loath to publicise it, but tough new regulations make it illegal for charities to sell food not cooked in a registered kitchen.
Proof of the crackdown could be found on state polling day when few schools or churches booked tables to fill with lamingtons and fairy cakes.
Father Sandy Marshall, in the most recent newsletter for St Peter's Parish at Wynnum in Brisbane, said:
"The Brisbane City Council health regulations now make it mandatory that all cakes sold in public places must be prepared and cooked in a registered kitchen. As this parish and many like us don't have such a facility, the day of the parish cake stall is finished."
Anglican Archdiocese general manager Peter Read said one interpretation of the regulation was that any food sold must be prepared in a commercial kitchen where there were facilities such as stainless steel benches for cleanliness.
"If that applies to the cake stall, there will be no cake stalls," Mr Read said. "But I've not heard of any stall since I've been here where people have been poisoned by eating church cakes."
Brisbane City Council health committee chairman David Hinchliffe said councils were placed in a difficult position where they were required to enforce the law.
"When a member of the public contacts us, we tell them that under the letter of the current state law, permits or licences are required for someone baking or providing food for charity stalls, community fetes and barbecues," Cr Hinchliffe said.
He hoped the problem would be resolved when the Government amended the Food Hygiene Act next year. In the meantime, councils might be liable for legal action if someone became ill from eating food from a stall that was not licensed.
Country Women's Association state president Lyn Kelman said a ban on cake stalls would mean a massive loss of income for the volunteer group, adding that their landmark Gregory Terrace headquarters in inner-Brisbane was "built on cake stalls".
"It's hard to raise funds... and sometimes a cake stall is the only way to make money to help all those people we assist every year," Ms Kelman said. "We've raised about $1 million from cake stalls in the 30 years we've been baking with about $15,000 raised last year."
CWA cooking co-ordinator Audrey McKay said the loss of cake stalls would be "the loss of an institution".
"Next these bureaucrats will be saying that people 30 years ago died from eating home-made cakes," Ms McKay said. "Older people aren't idiots. People love home-made cakes. They (authorities) are getting out of hand with hygiene."