A small Danish town has passed an ordinance making requiring public institutions to serve pork products. The ordinance was passed against an intensifying conflict over food products in Denmark – in what has been dubbed the “meatball war.” The AFP reports that Randers City Council in central Denmark announced it wanted to ensure public institutions, including nurseries, provide “Danish food culture as a central part of the offering — including serving pork on an equal footing with other foods.”
The Local reports that the town passed the law after councilors narrowly approved the proposal, voting 16-15 on Monday night.
Denmark has been subjected to a long-running debate over whether or not to allow public institutions to stop serving pork products out of respect for certain religions, particularly Islam.
The latest move has been welcomed by the populist, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP), which said it was “unacceptable to ban Danish food culture.”
Party spokesman, Martin Henriksen, wrote on Facebook: “The DPP is working nationally and locally for Danish culture, including Danish food culture, and consequently we also fight against Islamic rules and misguided considerations dictating what Danish children eat.”
Council member, Frank Nørgaard, told Randers Amtsavis: “We will ensure that Danish children and youth can have pork in the future.”
Social Liberals council member Mogens Nyholm voted against the measure, saying the idea of defining “Danish food culture” was absurd.
Former integration minister from the Danish Social Liberal Party, Manu Sareen, posted an angry note on his Facebook page, accusing the town’s politicians of “wanting to impose a forced ideology… in this case on children.”
The city council, however, tresses that the move is not aimed at forcing anyone to eat anything that “goes against one’s belief or religion.”
The Local notes that the “meatball war” reached a climax in 2013, after the former prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, criticized childcare centers that dropped pork from their menus.
The tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet reported that only thirty out of Denmark’s 1,719 daycare institutions had either stopped serving pork or switched to halal meat, that is, meat prepared in accordance with Muslim rules.
The latest round in the meatball war took place last week, when Integration Minister Inger Støjberg claimed that a Danish family had removed their child from a public daycare center after the center banned pork.
Sales of pork products and live pigs account for around 5 percent of Denmark’s exports.