COUNCIL officers and health chiefs have defended the introduction of fluoridated milk into 36 Sheffield primary schools.
The strategy has been criticised by some parents and anti-fluoride campaigners, concerned that the chemical is added into a basic children’s foodstuff.
One mum told The Star: “I was shocked when I received a letter from the junior school my daughter will be attending in September.
“She has always had school milk and the letter asked if I wanted her to have milk with fluoride in or without? I could not believe schools are allowed to give a child chemicals to drink.”
Fluoridated milk was introduced as an option for pupils as part of a campaign to prevent tooth decay which has also handed out free toothpaste packs and introduced teeth brushing sessions in before and after school clubs.
The scheme has been piloted and evaluated in suburbs such as Low Edges, Batemoor, Jordanthorpe, Tinsley, Darnall and Acres Hill.
Anti-fluoride campaigners argue such programmes contravene European law.
Council manager for children’s services Leah Barratt said the fluoride scheme had been introduced after consultation with all schools in the city.
“Since then the majority of our primary schools have opted to take this on board, but let’s make this very clear – parents make the final decision as to whether this is something they want their children to participate in.
“They have the option of letting their children have either fluoridated or non-fluoridated milk. Nobody is being pushed.”
More than 1,200 city children have the option of drinking the fluoridated milk.
Kate Jones, director of Dental Public Health at NHS Sheffield said: “In Sheffield there are many children suffering from tooth decay and adding fluoride to milk is a way of helping to prevent this.
“Fluoride milk is a safe and effective method of improving dental health. It is ordinary milk that looks, smells and tastes the same as ordinary milk with a small amount of fluoride added.”