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LA Times: France bans ketchup in schools

Citing over-use, the French government has banned ketchup in schools and colleges. The only exception is as an accompaniment to pommes frites. Good idea or bad?


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    1. re: linguafood

      As long as they are using it for fries the terrorists haven't won.

    2. This is patently ridiculous. Catsup is tomatoes in a concentrated form High in antioxidants. Probably too much sugar. But they don't seem to be cutting out desserts.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Plano Rose

        Maybe cause you really can't throw dessert on ANYTHING, whereas kids are known to do exactly that with sugar-loaded ketchup.

        1. re: Plano Rose

          I mean really, don't they know that ketchup contains natural mellowing agents that school kids these days need? I'm surprised the Ketchup Advisory Board hasn't made those Frenchies aware of this.

        2. Ketchup in the French schools I have been in is served in packets (usually only 1 per student) and only on the days they serve frites. Really odd note is that more kids eat mayo on their fries than ketchup...

          (and don't let anyone tell you that the French don't like McDonald's -- there's a McDo in every other wide spot in the road in France, and come mealtime, they're **packed** -- and it's not with tourists. They all talk about how they hate it, but yet at lunchtime, the lines are out the door.)

          There's a HUGE push to improve the quality of French school lunches (which are already generally head and shoulders better than US school lunches) -- there's a big program underway right now to get them using local foods from local growers and producers, and there's an omnipresent program called MangerBouger (Eat Move) that's roughly equivalent to the 5-A-Day program -- about eating 5 fruits and vegetables a day, ***avoiding snacking between meals***, and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

          11 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842

            I wish I didn't, but I *greatly* prefer mayo on my fries to ketchup.

            1. re: LulusMom

              You should combine the mayo & ketchup sometime. Not as in mix into a sauce, but a bit of ketchup and a bit of mayo. German-style, yo.

              1. re: linguafood

                a little curry mayo for me, please. ;)

                1. re: sunshine842

                  or sauce oorlog, as popular in holland: mayo, peanut sauce, raw onion. heaven on a (paper) plate. not kissing food, tho.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    lingua - aaah the new thing I learned today - THANKS! will/must try that, does it use spicy or just fishy peanut sauce? never mind I'll try both.

                    and yeah even if it should be likely, I'll refrain from 'french kissing' anyone for a while afterwards.

                    1. re: hill food

                      actually, it's neither fishy nor spicy. just peanutty gooey goodness, 'specially with the mayo.

                2. re: linguafood

                  I find ketchup a bit too sweet. I do sometimes mix the mayo with horseradish or mustard though.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Ah yes, "sauce américaine". At least that's what the Belgians call it.

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      No, "sauce américaine" that I've seen in France and Belgium is closer to Thousand Island dressing -- or the 'secret sauce' that McDo puts on its Big Macs.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        The sauce américaine I've had was much more like Russian dressing than Thousand Island, but I will concede your point. It seems to vary from straight mayo-ketchup mix to sauces with all kinds of veggies and spices tossed in and in varying degrees of heat.

                    2. re: linguafood

                      At the ski resort I spent a lot of time at when I was younger, we got in the habit of using thousand island dressing on our French fries since the ketchup was left out in a big open tub and looked more than slightly disgusting, while the salad dressing was in individual sealed packets. It's something that's stuck with me, though I usually don't bother with pickle relish, so I definitely second this idea.

                3. Ah, what do the French know about food anyway?

                  1. I've said it before: ketchup is the Rodney Dangerfield of condiments. Gets no respect....

                    1. i've said it elsewhere, but anything the French want to do to try to keep their lovely food culture alive and well is fine by me. and i prefer mayo too.

                      1. how will they get their anti-ox's then?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hetook

                          Uhm, from all that fresh fruit and veg they eat?

                        2. If ketchup is so bad they must ban it for everything.... oh wait, not fries .... Okay. I don't get it. Either ban it as a forbidden food or don't. Don't tell me what I can eat it on. That just seems absurd.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Firegoat

                            something's odd about the article, firegoat -- I used to teach in a French high school, and my offspring attend (different) French schools -- and the only time either me or my offspring have ever seen ketchup in the cantines was in individual packets (1 per student, and small ones at that) on days that they served fries.

                            Maybe our schools are special? (somehow I doubt it)

                            But other than on frites, I only rarely even see a bottle of ketchup on the table, even in a restaurant, and I don't think I've ever seen ketchup being eaten on anything BUT fries. (and as I mentioned above, even then it's usually mayo or sauce frites on the fries)

                            Don't know where the discrepancy is (and frankly don't care enough to look) -- but it's odd that they'd ban something to the status that IME it's been relegated to for the last several years....

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Your point about something being odd about the article... resonated with me enough to go looking for an article that explained what was going one more clearly. This helps, I think.


                              Apparently ketchup is not being singled out; there are concerns about the overuse of salt and various sauces, including mayonnaise, vinaigrette and ketchup.

                              1. re: souvenir

                                Weird -- the article says that vinaigrette, mayo, and ketchup will still be freely available, just depending on the items served...Which makes infinite sense, from both a nutrition and budgetary standpoint (which may be the real driving factor anyway) - why put out ketchup on days that the majority of kids aren't going to eat it anyway?

                                The salt, I'll agree with -- historically, there are salt and pepper shakers available on every table (along with pitchers of water) -- and I have seen kids absolutely blanketing their food with salt...elementary kids, especially, get completely carried away, and there's no real reason to have it available in that sort of quantity (if it has to be available, make the little packets available).

                                Just so everyone knows -- restricting (not banning) ketchup is from a country where a **normal** school lunch includes: choice of appetizer (some sort of raw vegetable salad like grated carrots, or a slice of pate with pickles), choice of main dish (always cooked, usually one meat- and one vegetarian option), choice of sides (always vegetables, frequently prepared from fresh rather than from frozen or canned), a milk (cheese or yogurt), and a dessert (pastry or fruit), with sliced baguettes or rolls available to your heart's content.

                                And school cantines are generally not too bad - there isn't a cafeteria/cantine anywhere that doesn't pull a clunker from time to time, and it's never as good as Mom's cooking, but it's pretty respectable, and a very sad and far cry from US school lunches (even in the ones that haven't had deep fryers in years).

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    I know...why in the world would you give a kid a decent lunch, and then actually give him time to eat it with a real fork and knife? (no plastic sporks in France, either)

                            1. Personally, I think Ketshup should be banned everywhere. Not just in schools in France--but world-wide. Ketchup. Ugh. The most vile condiment on the earth.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: jarona

                                MMMMmmmmm, tomato paste from reject tomatoes + HFCS + salt...why WOULD that be banned...can't think of anything nicer to put on my frites, or scrambled eggs for that matter...

                                1. re: freia

                                  Yes, let's make the tomato paste from the aesthetically prefect tomatoes and throw the other ones in the river. That's much better. My ketchup contains cane sugar, vinegar and spices. It's sweet, sour, savoury and spicy, and has pretty good depth of flavour. I don't eat it very often, but sometimes I'll have it with fries or in a cheese burger.

                                  You see, I'm not one of those people who, for some vague social or economical reason, think that ketchup is below them.

                                  1. re: SnackHappy

                                    Hey, if you make your own ketchup that's great! I don't think this is what was being discussed. I seriously doubt that schools are purchasing the homemade herb and spice type of ketchup. Just the commercial, HFCS salt and dead tomato type. I eat plenty of ketchup, made from a family recipe by yours truly and its more like a relish. My comment was about the quality of the ketchup you'll see in a typical school...sheesh!

                                    1. re: freia

                                      I buy Heinz and I'm very happy with it. I'm in Canada so mine has no HFCS, but if I were in the US I would just buy organic. I have tried making my own, but It never came out as good as Heinz. I believe that's because Heinz have their own tomato growers and the whole process of growing, harvesting and manufacturing is organized for optimum flavour.

                                      1. re: SnackHappy

                                        I buy two (small) bottles of ketchup a year -- so there is absolutely no guilt here whatsoever.

                                        1. re: SnackHappy

                                          Just by the way, in the States you don't have to go organic to avoid HFCS. Hunt's, I believe, doesn't use it in any of their ketchup offerings, and Heinz has a widely available non-HFCS option (Simply Heinz). I also agree about making my own: It never seems to work out well.

                                          1. re: SnackHappy

                                            I think we can, as individuals, make our own purchasing choices based on what we would like to see. BUT, given school budgets and requirements, its hard to enforce those same standards in an "institutional setting" (for lack of a better term). Fact remains is that budgets talk, and often health concerns go out the window. Schools just can't afford to make some of these choices. I suspect the ketchup in question would be the big gallon cheapest supplier variety, which means HFCS and/or loaded with sugar and salt. Yay FRANCE for taking a stand....

                                            1. re: freia

                                              How do the sodium and sugar levels in 'premium' brands of ketchup compare with more common ones? Plain Heinz is (per Tbl, 17g) 20 calories, 160mg sodium, 4g sugars.

                                          2. re: freia

                                            Cousin Eddie makes his own ketchup..."real tomato ketchup Eddie ? "

                                            " Nothin' but the best Clark !"

                                            1. re: rochfood

                                              "I don't know why they call this stuff Hamburger Helper, it does just fine by itself. I like it better than Tuna Helper myself."

                                              "No meat in this?"

                                              "You get plenty of meat at home."

                                    2. Mixed emotions on this. Is mayo better or worse to put on fries nutritionally? It's a lot higher in fat, probably saturated fat. My perverse like for fries is A-1 sauce, but I don't expect to have a whole lot of converts. I think my larger vote goes to "good for them", depending on what they were putting it on.

                                        1. I thought the French used mayonnaise with pommes frites.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            Times change. Twenty years ago, French people didn't think much of ketchup and had never heard of peanut butter. Today, both products are widely consumed in France.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              They do use mayo, as is also common in German, Belgium and other European countries. But the Americanization of the world palate unfortunately means that ketchup is creeping into the daily menu. And France wishes to avoid this by restricting its use. They have other local compotes and such that as a nation they would like to promote/use....

                                              1. Despite headlines about banning ketchup, and seeming to imply that it is ketchup only that has been singled out, my understanding is that salt and a number of sauces/condiments are now available in limited quantities, according to what is on the menu that day.

                                                Among the items listed as limited: salt, mayonnaise, ketchup, vinaigrette.

                                                They also restricted the number of times per month overly fat or sweet foods could be offered ( some examples listed: fries, chicken cordon bleu).


                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: souvenir

                                                  we covered all that upthread, with quote from the original article in Le Monde.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Indeed. That was me posting the Le Monde article.

                                                    Some of the recent comments, however, lead me to think that some were only familiar with the LAT headline/article/spin and additional clarifying articles from France were needed downthread.