A Brussels directive is likely to ban artificial dyes from smoked fish despite opposition from the British government. The move would deprive fish such as smoked haddock and cod of their familiar yellow colouring; they will revert instead to their natural hue.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has an honourable record in protecting traditional British fish: it made much of its success in saving the kipper and the Arbroath smokie from regulations on smoking procedures. Now, it has been arguing for the fishing industry's right to apply the artificial dyes which British consumers expect, as long as their use is safe. But a rather weary letter from David Curry, the minister responsible for fish, reported that, after 10 European council working group meetings, Britain and its EC partners are still deadlocked.
MPs and fish industry experts are worried about the potential loss of sales, although many prefer fish without additives. Elliott Morley, Labour's front bench spokesman, said: 'British consumers are very conservative in their tastes'.
Though Mr Morley expects problems 'when people see a product which is unfamiliar', change would be welcomed in some quarters. Philip Diamond, a London fishmonger and author of The Covent Garden Fish Book, already stocks undyed fish. 'Of course there are the old dears who remember the war when they could get their kippers for twopence, and you cannot change their ways. But the younger generation will listen to you when you say that it does not enhance the flavour and will come back and ask for it.'Reuse content