Iconic pork sausages banned from Swiss school menus, MPs outraged

© Michaela Rehle
The decision to serve only pork-free lunches in several schools in Basel Canton, Switzerland, has been blasted by the country’s conservatives, who accuse local authorities of giving in to religious minorities.

Four schools in the Binningen district of Basel Canton won’t have pork on their menu in the next academic year, the local council ruled last week. 

But the decision was strongly condemned by the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which argued that pork sausages were an integral part of Switzerland’s cuisine and culture.

“We are outraged. When we first heard [about it] we thought we weren’t reading it right,” Susanna Keller, Swiss People’s Party representative, is cited by Basellandschaftliche Zeitung paper.

During a Binningen Council meeting, Keller wondered: “could it be that we are adapting to certain cultures, rather than the other way around?”

The SVP believes that pressure from religious minorities saw the Swiss “deprived of their beloved Klöpfer sausages.” It’s forbidden to eat pork in Muslim and Judaic religious traditions.

The largest party in the national parliament sent a formal information request to the council, asking if the ruling would lead to “more demands in future.”

Binningen Council spokesman Bernard Keller explained that the decision to drop pork from the school menu was made after a survey, which revealed that 5 percent of the parents didn’t want their kids to eat this type of meat. 

According to the spokesman, the motives behind the parents’ desire to remove pork from the schools weren’t looked into. 

“That wouldn’t be standard practice. When someone tells you their child is vegetarian, you don’t ask why,” he said.

Keller stressed that the council has no plans of completely “banning” pork in Binningen’s schools. 

“If the caterer wants to serve up cervalat salad then he can. But he also has to offer an alternative,” he explained. 

But the People’s Party now demands an investigation into the reasons which made the parents demand the removal of pork from the school menu. 

It also urged a cost analysis to be performed, suggesting that replacing pork may be more expensive than keeping it.

However, SVP would have to wait for an answer to their info request at least until September as Binningen Council has just gone on summer holidays.

In March, Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) also had to stand up for pork sausages, which were dropped by many public canteens, daycare centers and schools due to the influx of Muslim refugees.

"The protection of minorities – including for religious reasons – must not mean that the majority is overruled in their free decision by ill-conceived consideration," CDU parliamentary group leader Daniel Günther said, adding that tolerance also means “the appreciation and sufferance of other food cultures and lifestyles."

READ MORE: German food minister stands up for pork on public menus

A similar row in France in autumn 2015 led to Union of Democrats and Independents Party MP, Enter Yves Jego, launching an online petition to make vegetarian meals obligatory in all schools to avoid any tensions. 

"Can we force a Catholic child to eat meat on Good Friday because nothing else is available, or a Jewish or Muslim kid to eat pork?" Jego said.