Coffee machine milk ‘like washing powder’

The milk used in many of Sweden's coffee vending-machine's constitutes false marketing and could be used to wash your clothes, a consumer association claims.

Coffee machine milk 'like washing powder'

Although it is the word “milk” that is the one written on the button of coffee vending- machines, the liquid that trickles into your coffee is far from it, claimed The Stockholm Consumer Cooperative Society (KfS) on Monday.

“It is pretty much the same sludge that Björn Gillberg washed his clothes with in the 1970s,” said Louise Ungerth at the society referring to the environmental debateur who caused an uproar in the 1970s when he washed his shirts in an artificial creamer on live television.

Gillberg’s gimmick led to the withdrawal of many coffee-creamer products from retail outlets.

In a new study looking at the incidence of false marketing in food products in Sweden, the society has discovered that the creamers have made a comeback at a vending-machine near you.

The society found that the “milk” dispensed in Selecta’s vending-machines is in fact a cream replacement, so-called whitener, and bears no relation to milk in its accepted form.

“I was very surprised when I rang Selecta, the market leader, and found out about the sugar solution and hardened fat that I have poured into my coffee four or five times a day at work over the years. It says milk on the button,” Ungerth said.

“There are many of us that have been fooled”, said Ungerth, who urged consumers to contact their suppliers.

Many suppliers of coffee and whitening products to vending-machines use milk powder while Selecta and others used the creamer-replacements if customers do not request anything else, according to a survey by the consumer society.

The National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket) says that EU directives are clear on the issue.

“The marking and presentation of food products must not mislead anyone. The law clearly specifies how the word “milk” can used. Milk should be milk…from milk-producing cows.”

Selecta however placed the reponsibility on its customers to decide the contents of their vending-machines.

“The word milk is generic. It is then up to each workplace to choose their gourmet topping,” said Helene Frankenberg of Selecta to Aftonbladet.

The Stockholm Consumer Cooperative Society decided on Monday to report Selecta to the National Food Administration for false and misleading marketing.

For members


The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.