“I question these spreads, what is really in them? Is it OK that the kids are served any old low-fat spread?,” one mother said to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).
When the students in some of the capital’s schools returned after their summer holidays they found that the school canteens had removed real butter as an alternative to spread on the bread served together with the school lunch.
The reason for the change is a decision by the Stockholm City local authority in charge of education (Utbildningsnämnden) to make a schools adhere to guidelines issued by the agency.
Behind the decision are tightened rules in legislation regarding schools serving nutritious food. The local authority chose to make the guidelines from the National Food Agency be the guiding rule for all schools in the area.
“The National Schools Inspectorate, which checks that the schools follow the law recommend that the guidelines are followed, so that’s why we decided to do that,” said Lotta Edholm, Stockholm city councillor in charge of schools to DN.
Edholm also explained to the paper that schools are allowed to serve butter with the bread if the school cuts down on the amounts of saturated fats in the rest of the food served.
“In the end, it is a question for every principal to decide for themselves what will be served, but our interpretation is that it is completely possible to serve butter,” she said to DN.
However, according to Principal Ingela Fondin of a school in the Björkhagen suburb of Stockholm, the information to schools has been impossible to misinterpret:
“The instruction was clear or we wouldn’t have given it up,” said Fondin, to the paper.
“I can’t make my own decisions, as an employee I just have to deal with it,” she told DN.
However, according to the paper, several schools are choosing to serve the low-fat spread Becel instead of the butter – an alternative that some experts are warning could be bad for the children’s health.
“What I have mentioned before is the negative effects this can have when it comes to heart disease. But there is also research that indicates a link to cancer,” said Göran Petersson of the Chalmers University in western Sweden to the paper.
Meanwhile, despite having contacted the school and the local authority to no avail, parents are not happy with the new rules.
“Where’s the freedom of choice? I don’t think politics should decide how and what we should eat, there must be alternatives,” said one parent to DN.