Sarah Purvis, 31 ,said that she was distraught when Alfie, six, came home from school and told her that during his lunch break he had found a “rainbow shaped” metal fragment in his ice cream
Image: Newcastle Chronicle)
A mum has cancelled her son’s free school meals after he claiming he found a piece of metal in his dinner – which she fears could have ended in “disaster”.
Sarah Purvis, 31 , said that she was distraught when Alfie, six, came home from school and told her that during his lunch break he had found a “rainbow shaped” metal fragment in his ice cream.
The food was provided by Denbigh Primary School’s canteen, reports Chronicle Live.
The ice cream, which was distributed by a member of canteen staff, was given to the Year Two pupil on Monday November 19, as part of the school’s free school meal service.
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Sarah, from Wallsend, said: “Alfie said that when he first put the spoonful of food into his mouth, he thought he’d gotten lucky and found a big bit of chocolate in his ice cream.
“He’s pretty switched-on kid, and so luckily he realised that it wasn’t edible very quickly.
“He took it out of his mouth, but he didn’t know what to do with it, so he just left it on the side of his plate.
“Alfie is a very polite child, and not the type of kid to cause a fuss or any anything, so he didn’t say anything to a member of staff that day. I think he probably didn’t want to bother anyone.”
After alerting his mum that evening when he returned home, Sarah said that she took the issue up with the school directly the next day.
She was then passed over to contact the catering team department of North Tyneside Council, who are responsible for all canteen staff and equipment provided at the school.
“From what Alfie had described, I thought at first that it might have been a bit of a metal whisk which was used to make the ice cream that the children were served,” she said.
“I was told after further investigations however that the school believed it to be part of the ice cream scoop, apparently some sort of clip, which had been used during mealtime that day.
“Later the council were able to confirm that the object found was part of a scoop used that day by a member of canteen staff.
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“The scoop was actually found by a staff member to be broken during mealtime, so it was noted and disregarded, and they used a standard spoon to distribute the ice cream for the rest of lunch instead.
“But the damage had already been done, because a hazardous part of that piece of equipment had already ended up in my son’s food.
“I’m upset because if staff were already aware that there was a broken food utensil, and it had been flagged up as a issue, why did they not recall all the children’s food there and then in case there was a foreign object in one, or more, of the dishes served – which it turns out there was.
“It’s obviously a huge choking risk, especially for children.
“It’s just totally irresponsible to do that and we are so lucky that no child has actually been hurt by this incident.”
Sarah said that when Alfie told her about the incident she “began to cry” over the idea that her son could have potentially come to harm while eating his lunch.
She also said that she was plagued with worries over what could have happened if another child, particularly a younger child at the school, had received Alfie’s contaminated bowl of ice cream.
“A lot of children just simply shovel food in, and it’s scary to think what could have happened if this had happened to a child younger than Alfie, who might not have had the same quick reaction which he did,” Sarah said.
“It doesn’t bear to think about.”
Sarah said after the incident she was “prepared to pull her son out” of Denbigh Primary School, but chose not to because of how much Alfie enjoys his classes and school friendships.
She did however insist on making him a packed lunch everyday following the incident, which has now added extra stress to her mornings.
“I work and I’m also studying for my Masters degree in Psychology alongside, so not having to worry about Alfie’s school meals was a relief,” she said.
“We get free school meals because I’m a student, and I’ve always been really appreciative of that, but he won’t be eating at that school again.
“The whole situation has put me under immense pressure.
“Financially too, affording packed lunches is another thing we now have to worry about. But I won’t risk letting him eat in that canteen again.”
A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: “As soon as we were made aware of the incident we acted quickly and asked all school kitchens to remove the ice cream scoops from their equipment.
“We have done a full evaluation of all our kitchens and re-trained staff, reminding them of their responsibilities to prevent this type of incident, which is extremely rare, happening again.”
Denbigh Primary School were contacted for response but declined to comment.