Blog Food Fight Leaves Egg On School’s Face

The Internet yields all sorts of disputes. Take the nine-year-old Scottish girl who was banned from posting photographs of school meals on her blog, which caused a firestorm of criticism.

Martha Payne, who by now has had in excess of three million hits on her blog at, started posting photos of her Scottish primary school lunches at the end of April. BBC News report that her “food-o-meter” rated each meal in terms of healthiness and how many mouthfuls it takes to consume the meal.

Ultimately, school officials became concerned and a school council banned Martha from posting further photos of school meals.

So, this food fight, while at times messy, has a happy ending.

But school officials likely did not anticipate the fallout from an angry social media reaction to the ban. Indeed, according to BBC News, a Scottish education secretary tweeted that he would be contacting the school council to overturn the “daft” ban. And a celebrity chef tweeted “stay strong Martha” and encouraged his more than 2 million followers to retweet his message.

In the wake of this reaction, the school council initially defended its ban and asserted that all of the attention on the blog had caused food staff at the school to be concerned about their jobs. The council also stated that the ban made sense because the photos on the blog represented only a fraction of food choices available to students.

However, and likely because of public pressure, the ban ultimately was lifted. Martha Payne likely is pleased about how this turned out. Her original goal was that her blog would help raise funds for Mary’s Meals charity. Her target was 7,000 pounds. Prior to the ban controversy, her blog had raised roughly 2,000 pounds. But after all of the attention caused by the ban, she has raised in excess of 30,000 pounds.

Indeed, Martha has stated that she has raised enough funds to build a kitchen in Malawi for children who receive Mary’s Meals.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is and he can be reached at To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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