Health managers who sent an e-mail to Greater Manchester schools advising them on how to prepare carrots for eating, have defended their actions despite the advice being labelled “bureaucracy gone mad”.

The Health Protection Agency said the e-mail, which said that carrots should be washed, cut from the bottom and then the top discarded, was merely a response to requests from schools for advice on how best to prepare carrots after the vegetable was introduced as part of the National Fruit in Schools initiative, reported BBC News Online.

“Carrots come in a raw state and, if you had them at home, some people would wash them, some would peel them, cut the tops off,” said a spokesman for the regional director of public health.

“If you’ve peeled them and you’ve got them lying around, they’re going to go soft and horrible and turn kids off the scheme.

“This is a very important initiative to get children eating fruit and vegetables,” the spokesman was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Some staff at schools that had not requested the advice said the e-mail was patronising and that it was “bureaucracy gone mad”.