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".
What is healthy these days? How does one go about eating healthily? Who the hell knows. How could you know?
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.
As you've doubtlessly seen on social media, Cadbury is partnering with Vegemite to create a new chocolate block flavoured with yeast extract. No really. This controversial sweet isn't set to hit shelves until next month, so we thought we'd beat Cadbury to the punch with a homemade version. We then fed the concoction to our horrified coworkers. Here are their reactions.
[Via The Observer]