Christchurch woman bemused after cafe denies request to butter takeaway scone for 'health and safety' reasons

At Fair Go, we say no problem too big or too small. Little things count.

“It’s health and safety gone mad," said Judy from Christchurch, adding she was “gobsmacked” and “p’d off”. 

We couldn’t resist.

The source of Judy’s dismay was a humble scone she bought at the Christchurch Hospital cafe and the trouble she had getting it buttered to go.

“I said look, would you mind buttering it for me please? I'm going to be eating on the run. Her words were, ‘I'm sorry this is a health and safety issue, we cannot butter your scone’, and I was gobsmacked.”

Judy didn’t want to make a fuss so she did what most of us do - took her purchase and her simmering resentment and left.

“My mouth must've dropped and I was so stunned at being turned down to have my scone buttered. What kind of service is that?”

Judy has spent 30 years making and selling food to the public. She knows the value of goodwill. She also knows how many scones you need to sell to pay the wages of the person serving you.

“It's all about customer service. Where has the customer service gone?” 

Judy didn’t take to Twitter, or phone the hospital to leave a testy complaint.  She could see the funny side. But this did bug her and she called TVNZ’s consumer champion and Fair Go put it to the test.

When we called at the cafe our modest request for a buttered muffin was also rebuffed. 

What could possibly be the problem? Knife handling hazards?  A rampant superbug? A fatwa on saturated fat? 

Was the Canterbury District Health Board trying to send a subtle cue that it would sell butter but not enable it, by refusing to spread the habit? 

What next? Would hospitals be designated a no-spreading zone, and butter lovers forced to huddle outside on the street in the cold, next to the smokers and vapers, clutching plastic knives and balancing cold scones and butter pats?

The truth is always simpler. 

Canterbury DHB had a scone policy that was out of date (but not out of dates, thankfully).

A helpful spokesperson took time away from matters of life, death, sickness and health, to explain:

“The staff member may have meant 'food safety' as I understand the previous food providers at Christchurch Hospital had a policy whereby staff serving unwrapped food to the public should not touch it with their hands.”


“However, staff can, and do assist people who need a hand buttering their scones and muffins, and we’re sorry this wasn’t Judy’s experience on the day.”


The DHB wants to butter Judy up a scone and shout her a cuppa.


Thanks Canterbury DHB. We know you have a lot on your plate So does Fair Go. So does Judy. 

But the world has not yet scone completely mad over health and safety and we’re happy to spread this one.

Thankfully Judy's experience was a case of out-of-date policy, not PC gone mad. Source: Fair Go