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More Swedish retailers hit by horsemeat scandal

Swedish supermarket chains Ica, Coop, and Axfood all confirmed on Wednesday that their lasagne products contain horsemeat, with the retailers' produce all coming from the same French chain that Findus had employed.

More Swedish retailers hit by horsemeat scandal

French supplier Comigel has provided Coop, Ica, and Axfood with horsemeat lasagne, despite claiming it was beef on the packaging.

Some samples had 100 percent horesemeat, according to Christine Kullegren, spokeswoman at Coop.

Ica heads refused to go into details as to whether trust has been lost with the French company.

“We can’t answer that right now, but we have had some good feedback. They have ceased connections with their subcontractor Spanghero and are sanitizing the whole factory to get rid of any traces of horsemeat,” Johanna Stiernstedt, head of quality control at Ica, told the TT news agency.

The scandal has affected other countries besides Sweden, with France, the UK, Romania and Poland also being hit by the horsemeat horror. Suspicions have even surfaced in Germany where the meat may also have been on sale.

Back in Sweden, Agricultural Minister Eskil Erlandsson said he didn’t believe any changes to the food packaging requirements were necessary.

“I’ve not had any indications from our expert authorities on a need for changes,” he said.

“We have a very strict legal framework – whatever it says on the packet should be the same as what is in the packet.”

Ica has made a complete recall of their lasagne products. Company heads said they would meet with Comigel representatives next week.

TT/The Local/og

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CLIMATE

Why does Sweden’s love for vegetarianism create an appetite for objection?

A number of schools in Sweden have cut meat from their menus in recent years, sometimes provoking strong reactions, and companies have also experienced backlashes.

Why does Sweden’s love for vegetarianism create an appetite for objection?
File photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

The cultural and historical position of meat as a staple of the national diet is a major reason for opposition to modern trends which promote vegetarianism, according to researcher Richard Tellström, an associate professor in food and meal science and an ethnologist at Stockholm University.

“Meat has always had a high status,” Tellström told TT.

When IT company Telavox recently announced it was dropping meat from its events and meetings, it came in for criticism from a number of customers, with some even saying they wanted to cancel contracts.

“This turned out to be a sensitive topic, perhaps more sensitive than I envisaged,” the company’s HR manager Filip Johansson said.

The decision by Telavox was not an attack on the meat industry, but an attempt to raise the issue of the effect of meat consumption on the climate, he said.

“It’s actually quite a soft action, but some people consider it an affront. They react to what they see as pointed fingers and forced changes. But we have also had positive reactions, so you have to weight things up,” the HR manager added.

Some municipalities in Sweden have trialled removing meat from school dining rooms on some days of the week. At a school on Orust, teachers protested that vegetarian lunches resulted in tired children who could not concentrate on lessons, GT/Expressen reported earlier in the year.

In other areas, parents have resisted vegetarian lunches in schools. In Mörbylånga, a mother called for “honest home cooking” in response to a vegetarian day at her son’s school, and reported the school’s headmaster to the local municipality, saying her child had been left hungry by the food that was served, local media Barometern reported in April.

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“If I deprive you of the right to practise your culture, you will naturally feel offended. And food is as culturally loaded as clothes, books, art and music,” Tellström said.

Historically, meat has been in short supply, and this is part of the reason it has a valued status in Sweden, the associate professor said.

Swedes are so secular and rational in their values that they easily forget food is an expression of those values, Tellström also noted, saying this is a reason why banning or excluding meat can provoke strong reactions.

At the same time, there is a growing trend towards opting not to eat meat, particularly amongst young people in urban areas.

“This is an urban phenomenon, and more and more people live in cities. We can also see a clear distinction between the food cultures of younger and older people, and also between men and women, in a way we haven’t seen before,” the researcher said.

“I think we should be careful about limiting people’s cultural expressions and speaking on their behalf about how to create a better world,” he added.

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