Doner kebabs: ban on additive phosphates rejected by European Parliament

The Parliament narrowly failed to back a ban despite health concerns

Jon Stone
Brussels
Wednesday 13 December 2017 17:09
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Turkish doner kebab with pita
Turkish doner kebab with pita

The European Parliament has narrowly voted against an EU-wide ban on a chemical ingredient widely used in doner kebabs across the continent.

MEPs needed an absolute majority of 376 to ban phosphates from food, but just 373 voted in favour, against 272, with 30 abstentions.

The industrial meat industry uses phosphates as a preservative in frozen meats, but critics say there is evidence that the chemical causes increased rates of cardiovascular disease.

Had the chemical been banned, the meat industry would have likely been able to use another additive in kebabs – though some MEPs have tried to portray the showdown as being about the future of the popular dish.

The Green and Socialist groups had argued in favour of the ban on the basis of health concerns over the additive.

“This is a sad day for consumer rights, which have been trampled on,” Belgian Green MEP Bart Staes said following the vote.

The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) which did not back the objection motion, however tweeted: “We saved your kebab. You're welcome”.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto

German EPP MEP Dr Renate Sommer previously claimed that the ban would lead to “the cessation of kebab production” in the EU.

Two studies, published in German in 2012 and the United States in 2013, appear to demonstrate potential links between phosphate additives and cardiovascular complications.

As well as kebabs, processed meats and sausages typically contain a large amount of added phosphates. In 2015 the World Health Organisation for the first time also declared that processed meats increased the risk of cancer.

The European Food Safety agency will launch its own investigation into phosphates next year, a move which could reignite the debate into the additives.

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