Health and safety regulators vs. Danish pastry

by Walter Olson on December 22, 2013

Two of my enduring interests — excessive government regulation and the quest for truly scrumptious cinnamon buns — intersect here in a single story from Denmark. [Guardian]:

…scientists have now discovered that too much of the most commonly used type of cinnamon, cassia, can cause liver damage thanks to high levels of coumarin, a natural ingredient found in the spice.

The EU has accordingly decreed that coumarin levels must be kept below 50 mg per kg in “traditional” or “seasonal” foodstuffs eaten only occasionally, and 15 mg per kg in everyday “fine baked goods.”

Last month, the Danish food authority ruled that the nation’s famous cinnamon swirls were neither traditional nor seasonal, thus limiting the quantity of cinnamon that bakers are allowed to use, placing the pastry at risk – and sparking a national outcry that could be dubbed the great Danish bake strop.

The president of the Danish Bakers’ Association, Hardy Christensen, said: “We’ve been making bread and cakes with cinnamon for 200 years. Then suddenly the government says these pastries are not traditional? I have been a baker for 43 years and never come across anything like this – it’s crazy. Using lower amounts of the spice will change the distinctive flavour and produce less tasty pastries. Normally, we do as we’re told by the government and say OK, but now it’s time to take a stand. Enough is enough.”

Meanwhile: Anonymous informant shuts down school bus cookie lady in Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, Minn. [MPR, AP]

{ 7 comments }

1 Walter Olson 12.22.13 at 1:07 pm

The one thing cinnamon buns have been missing all these years was a sense of outlaw defiance of authority. Now they are perfect.

2 Bill Poser 12.22.13 at 5:41 pm

I wonder why the Danish bakers can’t switch to true cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)? It is only “cassia cinnamon” (Cinnamomum cassia), a different plant, which contains substantial amounts of coumarin. (Maybe they differ in cost – I know nothing about the cinnamon market.)

3 Ethan 12.22.13 at 10:45 pm

What kind of stand? In the courts? It’s a rigged game.

4 Xmas 12.23.13 at 1:35 am

Bill,

The full article talks about why Ceylonian(?) cinnamon wouldn’t work.

5 John Fembup 12.23.13 at 4:51 pm

“Health and safety regulators vs. Danish pastry”

Oh, sure, right, fine.

No sooner than the now-famous selfie of this blonde “Danish pastry” with our president Obama is made public, this Danish pastry is harassed by her own government.

This is ridiculous! It’s an outrage! It’s , it’s,. . .what’s that you say?

Wait.

Never mind.

6 Igor 12.24.13 at 2:01 pm

Did I read correctly? “coumarin levels”?
Does cinnamon have natural coumarin in it? What’d I miss??
My blood is thinned enough as it is.

7 Mannie 12.26.13 at 10:36 am

Igor: I don’t think coumarin is the same as Coumadin (AKA Warfarin). The letter is the blood thinner.

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