The premiere of Junior MasterChef has cooked up controversy, with child psychologists at odds over the impact of the show on the junior contestants. The argument that the show places emotional stress on the children and exploits them sinks faster than bad souffle, one child psychology expert has said. ''These high-pressure television shows haven't been around for long enough to say that long-term emotional damage is going to be the case,'' said Mark Dadds, of the University of NSW. ''We've had spelling bee-style shows around for longer, and there is no evidence that they have a devastating effect on children.'' Professor Dadds said it was ''silly'' to try to protect children from competition and failure. ''Failure can be bad for children but only if it's associated with humiliation and ostracism,'' he said. ''Life is about failure. Of course, children should be exposed to competing and doing the best they can, and not always winning.'' Adam Greenfield, a child psychologist, said it was important how the failure was dealt with and how a child reacted to it. There is a psychologist on the set of Junior MasterChef and the contestants' parents are also there to encourage and console their children. The show's production company, Shine, said it worked with health and safety experts, child psychologists and the NSW Commission for Children and Young People. But Trisha Stratford, a neuropsycho-therapist who has worked on reality TV shows, said the environment was too highly pressurised and children would become emotionally desensitised. ''If an adult goes into short-term stress, they have the cognitive capacity to work their way through it, but we are talking about brains that are still forming. Putting these children under stress simply kills brain cells,'' Ms Stratford said.