Oops! Decade-old healthy snack booklet handed out at elementary school by mistake

Marshmallows, chocolate syrup and corn oil aren't the most nutritious ingredients, but were listed in a handout of healthy snack recipes accidentally given to some students at Elliot River Elementary School in Cornwall, P.E.I. last week.

Booklet 'not intended for general distribution' province says

'I was astounded to see what they're calling healthy snack recipes,' says parent Nadine Staaf. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

A mother from Clyde River was upset after reading through a nutritional booklet her son brought home from school recently.

Nadine Staaf felt the "Healthy High Calorie Snack Recipes" booklet — with an old P.E.I. Department of Health logo on the front — contained some less than healthy suggestions.

Staaf's son brought the booklet home from Eliot River Elementary, but the province said the booklets were a decade old, weren't meant for kids, and shouldn't have been distributed. 

"I glanced at first thinking wow, that doesn't look like accurate health information," Staff said. She noted a date of 2007 on the back of the booklet. 

"I was astounded to see what they're calling healthy snack recipes ... All of these recipes have been loaded with added sugar."

One, called a chocolate surprise drink, calls for skim milk powder, chocolate syrup, milk, ice cream and corn oil. "I don't know anyone who would ever feed that to their child," Staaf said.

'Isolated incident'

The booklet is not an approved resource, the Department of Education told CBC News, and was "not be intended for general distribution." Officials called this an "isolated incident" and are working to make sure school resources are up to date.

"Now that we have become aware of this information and that it was generally distributed to a class of students, we will connect with the health curriculum specialist and the school health specialist in the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture to make them aware and ensure materials used in schools are current and evidence based," an email to CBC from the Department of Health and Wellness said. 

What does Staaf think of the explanation?

"It is very concerning that information that 'wasn't meant for kids in the first place' was both printed and circulated to school children without a single adult noticing," she said, adding she thinks the department should apologize. 

"How can parents trust the Department of Health resources in the future when so little care has been put into ensuring children's wellness is a top priority?" she said.

The high-calorie recipes were intended for either pregnant women who were not gaining weight or children whose growth was faltering, explained Jennifer Taylor, a registered dietician and professor in the department of applied human sciences at UPEI.

"That pamphlet was put out by the Department of Health for obviously, a specific reason, but it would not have been appropriate for school-age children," said Taylor. "They're too high in sugar, they're too high in fat." 

With files from Sarah MacMillan