Denmark may soon have to say farvel* to everyone's favorite Danish pastry, the kanelsnegle — a luscious cinnamon bun Europe's food authorities say exceeds the EU limit of cinnamon per treat. We're not making this up.
Cassia cinnamon, the most common strain, contains an ingredient called coumarin that has been found to cause liver damage in a small group of susceptible people. Coumarin is only dangerous in high doses. Because of this, EU officials decided in 2008 to cap use of the ingredient — and therefore, cinnamon — to between five and 50 milligrams per kilogram of food. The ban traditionally is relaxed around the holiday season, when cinnamon takes center stage, but a recent Danish survey found that nearly half of the pastries tested for coumarin levels were way past the legally allotted amount. Now, Danish bakers have been asked to tone it down. But they're not giving up without a fight.
Danish Baker's Association President 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... 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.
No, the Danish Baker's Association won't take this lying down. Anders Grabow, also of the DBA, makes the point that the ban may be a good idea for children who eat more than half a kanelsnegle each day. But those kids, he opines, have bigger problems than cinnamon:
"We understand that the government wants to keep us safe – and a child who weighs 15 kgs will have reached their daily dose of cinnamon by eating half a kanelsnegle – a cinnamon swirl – if we continue to have 50 mg of coumarin per kg of baked product. But if a child that young eats that much pastry every day, they're on the fast track to obesity and cinnamon is the least of their worries."
And the average adult, he explains, eats only about about two kanelsnegle a week. Just two a week! That's nothing, cinnamon-wise.
The Guardian reports that the Danes may be especially upset by this ruling because their frenemy neighbors, the Swedes, get to eat all of the kannenbullar (Sweden's version of the kanelsnegle) they want. Ugh, Sweden gets everything.
Both Norway and the U.K. have gotten away with lax cinnamon laws, as well.
Danish bakers say they can't just, you know, use less cinnamon, because it would rob the kanelsnegle of its very kanelsnegle essence. Says Christensen:
Using lower amounts of the spice will change the distinctive flavor and produce less tasty pastries.
The Danish government has put the issue to rest for now, agreeing to reconsider the ban on the too-cinammony treats in February, when we hope Danish Prime Minister Gucci Helle will invite Barack Obama to taste-test some kanelsnegle with her, and photograph them both mid-bite.
*That means 'goodbye' in Danish, we looked it up online.