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Prominently displayed on the front page of noted nutrition advocate Jamie Oliver's web page is the claim that "20% of Australian children think pasta comes from animals".

A google search shows that this meme has spread quite a bit, almost certainly originating from that site.

However, I cannot find a source for this claim. The infographic contained on this page seems to be the primary point of distribution for this factoid (along with the claim that 27% of Australian kids believe that yogurt comes from plants), but the sources at the bottom of the infographic list a bunch of rather generic web pages, without linking to the specific report.

This version of the graphic includes a link to a PDF source, but the link isn't valid. I did find this PDF which is very similar to the broken link in that graphic, but there is no mention of any study, or even the claims cited" in that document.

Is the claim that 20% of children in Australia think pasta comes from animals, and 27% think yogurt comes from plants, backed by legitimate research?

  • 1
    As an italian, this is really interesting lol – Alenanno Nov 8 '12 at 15:22
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    As the parent of two bright Grade 5 students this doesn't surprise me at all and isn't really bothersome either. We forget how long it takes to build up the body of knowledge we consider basic. My kids are smart but I am constantly surprised by some of the questions they ask until I realize the reason I can answer them is that my parents taught me. – Paul Turnbull Nov 8 '12 at 16:47
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    "Yogurt comes from plants" is a reasonable assumption for a naïve child. After all, it says so on the cup: "Strawberry yogurt"; "Blueberry yogurt" – Simon Nov 8 '12 at 17:00
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    Haven't the Australian children learned about the extraordinary spaghetti harvest in 1957? youtube.com/watch?v=27ugSKW4-QQ – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 8 '12 at 19:24
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    some pastas do contain animal products, so depending on their point of view they could be correct. – Ryathal Nov 8 '12 at 21:35
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That information is based on a survey by the Primary Industries Education Foundation (PIEF), which was undertaken by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER):

A sample of 150 primary schools and a sample of 150 secondary (or central) schools were selected with probability proportional to size of the student populations (Grade 6 and Grade 10).

Students


Results:


Table

The full report has for much more information.


So, according to this survey:

  • 18% of 6 Grade Students think that Pasta is an Animal Product.
  • Only 7% of 10 Grade Students think that Pasta is an Animal Product

  • 27% of 6 Grade Students think that Yoghurt is an Plant Product
  • 13% of 10 Grade Students think that Yoghurt is an Plant Product


From the Sydney Morning Herald (March 2012):

What They Think

In total, 900 rural and urban students were surveyed from 61 schools across the states over almost four months to last October.

  • 2
    Jamie should really get into cotton education as it seems. – Der Hochstapler Nov 8 '12 at 17:23
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    I think if it said "cotton" rather than "cotton socks" in the first survey, the answers would have been different. Here, in Australia, wool is an important industry, and we are encouraged to buy wool products (specifically socks) to help Aussie farmers. – Douglas S. Stones Nov 9 '12 at 2:45
  • It's a shame they didn't ask about pepperoni. I was in high school before I realized it was a meat and I wonder how common that is. I have worked with two different immigrants from India who do not eat beef except in pepperoni pizza... because they didn't realize it contained beef until after they had gotten used to eating it. :) – Kip Nov 14 '12 at 21:25
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    I must say those questions is a bit... ambiguous. Pasta is made from wheat and eggs usually IIRC. It both comes from plants and animals thus. You can make pasta without eggs, but generally you use eggs. Overall that survey was really bad IMO. Too easily to get confused. – Wertilq Apr 8 '13 at 9:11
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    I guess '20% of all australian children' sells better than '18% of 6th graders'.. – Kevin Laity Apr 8 '13 at 20:38

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