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France Bans Ketchup in Schools and Colleges

France promotes healthy eating by banning ketchup...except when eaten with French fries.

France has taken the next step in promoting healthy eating within the country by banning a popular American condiment. The French government has banned schools and colleges nationwide from offering ketchup with any meal, except if being eaten with French fries.

"France must be an example to the world in the quality of its food, starting with children," said Bruno Le Maire, France's agriculture and food minister.

The ban will permit French fries to be served only once a week in student cafeterias and the cafeterias must keep records of what has been served for school health officials. Recommendations for promoting healthier eating in France, including the ketchup ban, were made my government researchers more than four years ago, but to decree took effect this week, one month after the start of the school year.

Under the new law, French students are not allowed to bring home-prepared lunches to school. They must eat in the cafeteria or go home for lunch.

Le Maire said that these new rules were introduced because the nation's schools have not used common sense when it comes to nutrition.

"Nutritional rules are neither applied or controlled," said Le Maire. "We are making them obligatory and we will be keeping an eye on the menus."

The new rules also state that school officials must cut down on fatty foods, introduce more fruits and vegetables, and students can have unlimited amounts of bread and water.

Christophe Hebert, chairman of National Assn. of Directors of Collective Restaurants, suggests that cultural values are a large part of the new rules.

"We have to ensure that children become familiar with French recipes so that they can hand them down to the following generation," Herbert said. "We absolutely have to stop children from being able to serve those sorts of sauces to themselves with every meal." 

La Maire said that six million children eat at school cafeterias everyday and 1 in 2 students is still hungry when they leave.

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