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French School Identifies Non-pork Eaters With Yellow Tags


An elementary school in France thought color-coded tags to be worn by students who don’t eat pork and meat was a good idea, until parents complained. This is occurring in the backdrop of rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

JTA Sep 29, 2015 2:36 PM, via. Haaretz

Elementary school in small French city swiftly withdraws initiative that used colored tags to identity students who do not eat pork and meat.

A French municipality launched a probe into an elementary school’s use of red and yellow tags to identify pupils who do not eat pork and meat, respectively.

The city of Auxerre, located 105 miles southeast of Paris, opened the investigation on Friday after parents complained to local media about the school’s initiative, in which neck strings bearing red and yellow plastic discs were placed on pupils ahead of lunchtime at the school cafeteria.

The pupils wore the tags for one day before the faculty was instructed to stop using them.
The debate on the availability in public schools of pork-free dishes is a divisive issue in France, where rightist parties and other politicians advocating strict separation between religion and state see it as proof of a creeping influence on the public sphere, mostly by Muslims immigrants.

Malika Ounes, a conservative member of the Auxerre city council, told the news website “It’s revolting. It brings back memories of dark times,” in reference to the requirement in Nazi-occupied France that Jews wear yellow stars on their clothes.

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  • Just Saying

    ok. I agree totally.

  • ShunTheRightWhale

    I grew up with a somewhat functioning food allocation system without any visible differentiation in a kindertagesstaette (communal daycare facility for children up to 12 years), just one time I knew of an error, sausages with a mixture of beef/pork were eaten by Muslim fellows…

    Somehow food was never a big issue at that age, but later on my brother suffered bullying because of his allergy (which could lead to suffocation if the allergen was swallowed).
    Even without a special marking, diet alone can lead to discrimination. Being gay or outspoken even raise stronger moral and political sentiments caused by anything not conforming to a sexual norm or an official opinion.

  • Ravage Chaos

    I agree

  • Just Saying

    tru dat. could be worse though. he could have been gay and in an Islamic nation. or a mouthy blogger.

  • HSkol

    Straight up bullying. Demeaning another person because of a slight difference between himself and others.

  • ShunTheRightWhale

    The choice of food is of immense cultural importance, it defines peculiarities and differences. Guess how his classmates reacted when they discovered my brother’s (a rather shy, defenseless guy) allergy against milk and eggs?

    They threw it at him.

  • The greenmantle
  • Reynardine

    At least it wasn’t yellow crescents.

  • mindy1

    That makes sense

  • Reynardine

    How about giving the students meal tickets, with dietary information discreetly encoded?

  • Cengiz_K

    What’s Dr. M’s comment on this?

  • moraka

    If Hitler wasn’t German he would have been French Viva La Fuhrer.

  • Tanveer Wan Khanobi

    The fact that they used yellow tags is certainly unfortunate. XD

  • sasboy

    Would the children not eating pork be forced to wear yellow tags ? I think that is important to ascertain before we pass judgement.

  • Heinz Catsup
  • mindy1

    How about the cafeteria workers have a list, and if the kid is on one list they get this meal, on another one they get that meal….

  • mindy1

    Actually what you are saying does make sense. I agree it could have been done in a more subtle way, but I think it is important.

  • JD
    The American anti-Islam campaigner David Horowitz donated $20,000 (€18,110) to the Dutch anti-immigration party PVV, run by Geert Wilders, in 2014, government documents show. The donation from the David Horowitz Freedom Centre is the only one on the official home affairs ministry list of outside funding for the party last year. Since 2013, Dutch political parties have been required by law to publish all donations over €4,500. The PVV was strongly opposed to the move at the time.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    The plate idea is pretty good, though as you say you may worry about kids trading plates. Of course, if the kids themselves are not willing to follow the rules, they could trade or share food even after it’s served to them according to their own dietary rules/guidelines.

    I don’t think that food rules are always “all or nothing.” I think that a lot of parents are fine with risking (or ignoring the possibility or likelihood of) some minor contamination but don’t want their children having certain foods as primary ingredients in their meal.

  • Just Saying

    I would think you give them color coded plates. depending how many kids get the yellow plates, or a different color so as not to bring back the yellow start, the kids might not even notice the difference. but of course that runs the risk of two kids trading plates.
    I would think that if you are that concerned with your kid accidently getting a piece of pork on their plate or a cross contamination in the kitchen or with a serving utensil, you send them with a lunch from home.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Actually, I think this was probably just a case of good intentions that were yielded an unfortunate result.

    The school had a problem: how to be sure not to serve meat or pork to students who don’t eat those products. If the students were older, the school could have probably labeled the foods and let the students make their own choices. I am assuming that because of the students’ ages, this was considered to be unreliable. So, the cafeteria workers had to know which students they could not serve certain dishes to.

    Since the cafeteria workers presumably did not know the students, and because the students were probably too young to reliably know which dishes they should be asking about (hmm, does ratatouille actually contain rat?), someone thought that it would be best to identify the students. Text is hard to read from the other side of a serving area, so a color-coded marker seems ideal for quick identification of students.

    I admit the visual was probably poor, and I don’t know why green wasn’t used for vegetarians, but I think this was more the case of someone coming up with what they thought was a reasonable system to help young students by preventing them from being served food that they should not be served. Also, it’s hard to think of many simple alternative systems that one can use with young children where you may need a cafeteria worker to be able to identify the children rather than have the children identify the food or even a color-coded marker associated with different food items. But perhaps someone else is more creative or knowledgeable than I am on this point. Any ideas?

    I think I’d call this a well-intentioned but unfortunate decision rather than a case of clear bigotry.

  • Adamantium_786

    Why am I not surprised?

  • JD

    Hitler comparison comment in

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