Doner Kebab Controversy Skewers Europe With Bid to End Additives Ban

By Publications Checkout
Doner Kebab Controversy Skewers Europe With Bid to End Additives Ban

European Union lawmakers are deliberating the composition of kebab meat as they tackle the bloc's latest dispute over food safety.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, will vote Wednesday on whether to let phosphates be used in meat cooked on spits, with left-of-centre political groups and consumer organisations resisting such deregulation. Opponents cite a possible link between phosphate additives in foods and cardiovascular risks.

Proponents counter that phosphates would keep kebab meat juicier for longer. That advantage for producers prompted the European Commission, the 28-nation EU’s regulatory arm, to propose an end to the bloc’s ban on phosphates in kebab meat.

Kebabs join a long list of EU disputes over the years about the safety of foods such as hormone-treated beef, chlorinated chicken and genetically modified organisms. Centering on Europe’s better-safe-than-sorry “precautionary principle,” the controversies have variously pitted the EU against trade partners such as the U.S. and European nations against each other.

The EU Parliament’s environment committee opposed the commission proposal to allow phosphates in kebab meat, saying the status quo should be maintained at least until the European Food Safety Agency publishes the results of a study on the matter. For the current EU ban to be upheld, at least 376 members in the 751-seat Parliament will have to follow the environment committee’s recommendation.

Some exceptions to the EU ban on phosphates in "meat preparations" already exist. These include breakfast sausages, burger meat with a certain minimum vegetable or cereal content, and Finnish grey salted Christmas ham.

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