I enjoyed writing my animal themed blog posts last week, so I thought I’d go with a theme again this week. And, this  being France, well, it had to be food.

I’m starting with a look at tomato ketchup. The French government recently banned tomato this from school canteens as part of its new dietary guidelines. Kids can have one helping of ketchup each on their chips, but no more than once a week. Claims have been made that this is a public health move.

This is nonsense. It’s a political move, pure and simple. The politicians don’t want French children adulterating good French food with this American concoction.

Let’s see how healthy or unhealthy ketchup actually is. 100g of tomato ketchup contains 108 kcals, 1.3 g protein, 25 g of carbohydrates (glucides) and o.3 g of fat (lipides). In comparison, mayonnaise has 676 kcals for the same quantity and 74g of fat. And cheese, that French staple, is often around 400 kcals per 100 g with 30 g or so of fat.

The unhealthy claim simply doesn’t work. It’s not ideal for kids to slosh it on everything they eat, but it’s hardly the end of the world. Our Ruadhri loves a tomato ketchup sandwich and his big brother enjoys a plate of pasta with ketchup on. It’s a universally popular food and it’s frankly just plain mean to ban it in canteens.

The government can be a bit heavy handed in its anti-obesity drive. It banned primary school kids from having snacks during breaktimes a couple of years ago. This caused an outcry at the school where Ruadhri was at the time.  Like many schools in France, it’s a country one. A lot of the pupils leave their homes around an hour before school starts to make the bus ride there. Obviously they have their breakfasts at least half an hour before departing, say around 7.30. Going through to midday is a long haul for little kids, many of whom can be faddy when they’re half asleep at the breakfast table. Rors was one of these and some days he’d hardly eat anything. So we parents all protested and the teacher eventually said it was OK for them to have something to eat before lessons began, but remember, she didn’t really say that. It put her and all other teachers in a very awkward position. The ridiculous thing was there wasn’t even one remotely chubby child at the school anyway. A friend of mine with twins at another school had her kids actually faint a couple of times. Their school had two sittings since there were a lot of pupils, and the twins were on the second sitting, not getting lunch till around 1.15 pm. These poor kids were having to go nearly 6 hours without eating. No adult would stand for that, but somehow it was OK to inflict it on children.

So this seems another equally ill-advised move. It may possibly save schools some money, but I bet it’s more likely they’ll be throwing away more leftover food that would have been happily eaten up with a splodge of ketchup on top.