After a very busy Christmas we returned to find the newspapers talking about cinnamon, Danish rolls and the EU. The Guardian covers the row well.
It all comes down to a laughably cautious interpretation in November 2013 by the Danish health authorities of a 2008 European Union directive on the maximum coumarin content allowed in baked goods. “We have interpreted the rules in such a way that limits the amount of this chemical that consumers eat, so cinnamon rolls and other cinnamon products will have to follow the lower threshold" said spokesperson Birgit Bønsager with manifestly spurious logic, before going on to have a swipe at rival Sweden who has chosen to interpret the directive more loosely.
Uproar followed. "It's the end of the cinnamon roll as we know it," said Hardy Christensen, the head of the Danish Baker's Association. The UK press reported that British research had concluded that "the extent to which coumarin is bad for the health is debatable", thus bypassing the need for specific UK legislation to enforce the EU directive. Other EU countries simply ignored the directive.
Take a look at our piece last year on the actual risk posed by coumarin as previously assessed by the German and UK health authorities. Also note that the coumarin is a naturally occurring chemical found in cinnamon cassia, which includes Saigon cinnamon but not Ceylon cinnamon. Health authorities in the US and the EU agree that Ceylon cinnamon contains negligible amounts of coumarin.
The Danish authorities have given kanelsnegle a temporary reprieve until February. Watch this space.
(Minor update 15 Feb 2014, these Danes have a scarey way of protesting.)
This is what is at stake: