UK council lifts gag on 9-year-old food critic

Associated Press Modified: June 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm •  Published: June 15, 2012
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LONDON (AP) — A 9-year-old blogger won a food fight with authorities in her Scottish town Friday, after an online outcry prompted officials to lift a ban on posting photos of her school lunches.

Martha Payne's images of uninspiring school meals — one consisted of two croquettes, a plain cheeseburger, three slices of cucumber and a lollipop —drew international attention. The blog, set up about six weeks ago as a writing project and to help raise money for a school-meals charity, has drawn more than 2 million hits.

Martha, who lives in the coastal town of Lochgilphead, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) west of Edinburgh, gave each meal a "food-o-meter" rating, and offered an assessment of its contents.

"I'd really like to know where the chicken comes from," she wrote in an entry about chicken fajitas, "so I am going to write to the lady in charge to ask. I know it comes from a hen but I'd like to know where the hen lived."

Local officials weren't amused, and ordered the schoolgirl to stop taking pictures.

In a statement, Argyll and Bute Council said Payne's photos were misleading and had caused distress to cafeteria staff. The council was particularly irked by a report about the blog in Scotland's Daily Record newspaper headlined "Fire the Dinner Ladies."

The council complained of "unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service" and said the blog "misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils."



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