Fight as I might against the desire to repeat endless "health and safety madness" stories, I cannot resist it and I have set up a new Delicious tag ("madness") to file them under. My first gut instinct on coming across another example of some ridiculous new ruling is to see it as an attack on health and safety culture in general. I was a firm supporter of the 1978 Health and Safety at Work Act and spent many years teaching courses about the Act and the changes it would (and did) bring in British industry. But to equate the recent trend which wants to see cups of tea given a "Caution -Hot Drink" warning label or insists on signs in public parks warning of the danger of falling trees in high winds, is to do a disservice to the serious problems the 1978 Act was introduced to combat. The Act always had at its core the concept of "reasonableness", a concept many of today's petty rule-makers have clearly never come across.
Today's madness story illustrates that such nonsense is not just a British failing. According to a piece in the Guardian, the German Parliament is proposing that Kinder Surprise eggs constitute a danger to children in that the kids might mistake the little toys they contain for something they should be eating! A member of the Commission which has come up with the ruling stated that "children are unable to differentiate between toys and nutritional items". And just in case the little fellows can differentiate, the Commission states that the toys should be banned anyway as they act as a reward for potentially poor nutrition. In another ruling, the same Commission is calling for lighter paper to be used in all German school exercise books in order to combat the health risk of heavy school bags. Classics.