Danish town says public institutions must serve pork as country's 'meatball war' continues

Randers City Council want to ensure 'Danish food culture' is a central part of offerings at public institutions

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The Independent Online

A Danish town has made it compulsory for public institutions to serve pork products, drawing mixed reactions in what has been called the country’s “meatball war”.

Randers City Council in central Denmark said it wanted to ensure public institutions, including nurseries, provide “Danish food culture as a central part of the offering - including serving pork on an equal footing with other foods”, AFP reports.

The town passed the law after councillors narrowly approved the proposal, voting 16-15 on Monday night, according to The Local.

The vote is part of a long-running debate in Denmark - dubbed the “meatball war” - over whether or not public institutions should be allowed to stop serving pork products out of respect for certain religions, particularly Islam.

The move has been welcomed by the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP), which said it was “unacceptable to ban Danish food culture.”

Party spokesman, Martin Henriksen, wrote on Facebook: “The DPP is working nationally and locally for Danish culture, including Danish food culture, and consequently we also fight against Islamic rules and misguided considerations dictating what Danish children eat.”

Council member, Frank Nørgaard, told Randers Amtsavis: “We will ensure that Danish children and youth can have pork in the future."

However, Social Liberals council member Mogens Nyholm, who voted against the proposal, said the idea of defining "Danish food culture" was absurd,  whilea  former integration minister from the Danish Social Liberal Party, Manu Sareen, accused Randers politicians of “wanting to impose a forced ideology… in this case on children.”    

The aim of the proposal, Randers insists, is not to force anyone to eat anything that “goes against one’s belief or religion.”

The "meatball war" reached a climax in 2013, after the former Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, criticised childcare centres that dropped pork from their menus.

A survey following the criticism by tabloid newspaper, Ekstra Bladet, found only 30 out of Denmark’s 1,719 daycare institutions had either stopped serving pork or switched to halal meat, meaning any meat served was prepared following Muslim rules.

The food-fight was revived last week when Integration Minister, Inger Støjberg, claimed a Danish family had removed their child from a public daycare centre after it banned pork. Aalborg officials and the school in question both denied a ban was ever put in place, according to The Local.

There are around 13 million pigs in Denmark and sales of pork products and live pigs account for around five per cent of the country’s exports.

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