Why Does The NSW Government Hate Vegemite?

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In a bid to fight childhood obesity, the NSW Department Of Education has issued a blacklist of foods it wants to see banned or heavily restricted from school canteens. While the majority of snacks mentioned in the report won't raise any eyebrows (examples include butter, sweet biscuits and chocolate), there is one item that is sure to cause controversy: Vegemite.

That's right, in addition to our tax dollars, the Man is now coming after our kid's favourite breakfast spread. That's just bloody un-Australian that is.

Okay, so Vegemite might not actually be Australian (yet), but it remains one of our fair land's most iconic creations. And now it's being yanked from school canteens around the state.

The new health initiative urges school canteen managers to restrict all foods and beverages with a Health Star Rating (HSR) below 3.5. (Vegemite has a star rating of 1.5, presumably due to its sodium content.) While it hasn't been banned outright, the NSW Department Of Education has urged schools to "use it sparingly".

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Vegemite is marketed as a nutritious source of B vitamins but it's also quite salty: a single serve contains 165 mg of sodium which is 7 per cent of an adult's daily intake. For children, that percentage blows out significantly; especially if they prefer a thicker spread or typically eat multiple slices in one sitting. On the other hand, it contains virtually no fat and very few kilojoules, so child obesity isn't a factor here.

Schools are also being encouraged to stock healthier alternatives such as rice paper rolls, vegetable-based soups, hummus and salad. In rationalising the decision, Education Minister Rob Stokes said: "We can't teach good ­nutrition in the classroom and then sell rubbish in the playground."

Currently, there are no rules restricting kids from bringing in their own Vegemite from home, but you can never be too careful: we suggest hiding the offending spread in DIY chocolate or greasy pizza. That'll show 'em.

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[Via The Observer]


Comments

    Maybe you just don't fully understand the concept of Nanny state? ;P

    Why Does The NSW Government Hate Vegemite?

    Because @transientmind became Premier there and outlawed it.

    :-P

      Not me specifically. But one of my collaborators.

      We are everywhere. And we are coming for your disgusting, rancid vegetable paste. For the good of the nation's image.

        For the good of the nation's image.

        Sooooo.....

        You wish to replace a spread that is high in sodium with a spread that is high in sugar (Nutella)?

        Don't see the change in national image; looks round in both cases.

        :-P

    This is where shortcomings in the health star-rating system really start to become apparent.

    Firstly, the star ratings are supposed to be used to compare like products - so the 1.5 stars that Vegemite receives is supposed to be compared to similar spreads such as honey (1 star), jam (2.5 stars) or peanut butter (3.5 stars). There's a reduced-sodium version of vegemite available, but when you look at the FoodSwitch website, it doesn't appear, so you can't compare it to the regular version.

    Wonder white sandwich bread has 400mg of sodium per 100g - A serving of 2 slices then has around 300mg of sodium - meaning that in a vegemite sandwich, most of the sodium is coming from the bread, not the vegemite. Wonder white has 4.5 health stars, presumably because it has more fibre and less sodium compared to other breads.

    So blanket advice about star ratings really doesn't help much, but if it's making people read the label, I guess that's a start.

      I'm on a LCHF diet so most of the stuff I eat is low-star foods. The one thing that makes me laugh is 5-star fruit juices which are pretty much just flavoured sugar water.

    That's a bloody outrage, it is! I want to take this all the way to the Prime Minister.

    I don't eat it anymore, where possible and where there's an alternative I refuse to pay the halal tax. Ozemite for me now.

      Its also kosher and vegetarian! What an outrage. How dare they try and increase their global markets!

      How dare Vegemite try to increase their market. Those people who work for them dont deserve wage rises! They should keep their low wages because you dont like brown people!

    One wonders whether it would have made the list if it had still be in the hands of some multi national? Now that it's back in Aussie hands it's much easier to pick on with impunity...

    Vegemite, only in Australia, not liked by everyone, same as AFL. (or NFL)

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