“Hold the ketchup!” That’s the new edict from the French government that went into effect this month, restricting the amount of ketchup that can be served in most primary and secondary schools in the country.
The new guidelines are intended to help children stay true to their cultural heritage—and to help keep them from getting hooked on fattening junk foods.
School lunchrooms may serve condiments such as ketchup and mayonnaise only with certain dishes, such as fries, which are now allowed to be served only once a week. Schools are banned from serving ketchup with traditional French meals, such as beef bourguignon and roast veal with blue cheese sauce—which, of course, would be outrageous.
Cafeterias have a public health mission, says Christophe Hebert, chairman of the National Association of Directors of Collective Restaurants. “We have to ensure that children become familiar with French recipes so that they can hand them down to the following generation,” he says.
The new government guidelines state that French schools must offer four or five dishes each day, including a dairy product, such as cheese or yogurt. Schools are encouraged to regularly serve broccoli and spinach, and bread must be available in unlimited quantities.
But what do the new rules say about ketchup on tater tots? And when is taco day? Those are just some of the issues apparently left out of the new regulations.
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