It is a highlight of childhood - clamouring around the kitchen to lick the spoon or mixing bowl while baking.

But the agency charged with protecting the safety of food in New Zealand has now told parents that this childhood treat should not be risked.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority warned in this month's edition of its Foodfocus newsletter that licking the spoon or mixing bowl had a "nasty bite".

"It may be a traditional treat to lick the bowl and spoon when baking, but the New Zealand Food Safety Authority is advising against it after an outbreak of salmonellosis was linked to some brands of flour."

A salmonella outbreak last year led to about 50 people falling ill. Investigations traced the outbreak to a batch of flour, and a number of children falling ill after baking.

The advice has been scoffed at by those contacted by the Herald on Sunday - and even seems to be ignored by the expert arranged by the FSA to speak on the subject.

Dr Roger Cook, a microbiologist at the authority, said his sons had licked the spoon and mixing bowl after baking just the night before he spoke to the Herald on Sunday.

"I still fight with my kids and my wife to get the wooden spoon and lick the bowl."

However, he said there was risk involved. "The kids lick the bowl, and if there is salmonella in there, and you get a good dose, then you are going to get food poisoning."

The authority referred the Herald on Sunday to the Ministry of Health for figures on salmonella poisoning related to licking the spoon or mixing bowl. The ministry says there are no recorded cases, and that the figures do not exist.

Celebrity chef Jo Seager says she runs cooking classes for children and encourages students to lick the spoon and bowl. "Making a chocolate brownie and not licking the bowl seems like one of life's great tragedies."

Simon Gault, owner and chef of Euro, said the advice was "ridiculous".

"PC is getting out of hand," he said. "Look at the people who are making the rules - they have probably never had a life. They need to pull their heads in."

Laurie Powell, New Zealand Association of Bakers' president, said the advice came after an "isolated incident". "It seems it is a silly sort of warning."