Marmite

Marmite made illegal in Denmark

According to the marketing slogan it is a taste that you either love or hate. But Danes will no longer get the chance to make up their own minds on Marmite after the British delicacy was banned under food safety laws.

The strongly flavoured dark brown spread made from brewer’s yeast has joined Rice Crispies, Shreddies, Horlicks and Ovaltine prohibited in Denmark under legislation forbidding the sale of food products with added vitamins as threat to public health.

Many well known breakfast cereal and drink brands have already been banned or taken off supermarket shelves after Danish legislation in 2004 restricted foods fortified with extra vitamins or minerals.

But Marmite had escaped notice as an exotic import for a small number of ex-pats until the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration telephoned Abigail’s, a Copenhagen shop selling British food, to ban the famous yeast spread.

“I don’t eat it myself, I don’t like it but Marmite was one of our best selling products. Not a day goes by without someone coming in and asking for it,” said Marianne Ørum, the shop owner.

“All the English people here are shaking their heads in disbelief and say that it is insane. I agree but it is the law. It’s becoming impossible to run a business in this country. We are not allowed to do anything anymore. It is the way Denmark is going.”

The shop has now started a “Bring back Marmite” campaign to overturn a ban that is seen as discriminating against Britons living and working Denmark.

Lyndsay Jensen, a Yorkshire born graphic designer working in Copenhagen, told the British ex-pat RedHerring.dk website, that Britons would carry on spreading Marmite on their toast, even if it meant smuggling it in to Denmark.

“They don’t like it because it’s foreign,” she said. “But if they want to take my Marmite off me they’ll have to wrench it from my cold dead hands.”

The sale of any foodstuff with the “addition of vitamins, minerals and other substances” must be first approved by the Danish authorities after a health scare over their effect on children or pregnant women when combined with other foods with high vitamin levels.

Source: The Telegraph

John Walsh: What’s Marmite done to deserve this?

Of all the bloody cheek. The nation woke yesterday to the news that Denmark’s Veterinary and Food Administration has gone and banned Marmite from its shelves. There was immediate outrage. On Twitter, infuriated British consumers threatened to visit supermarkets and de-shelve cans of Carlsberg, packs of Danish bacon and tins of Spam (which, though invented in the US, is made in Denmark).

Cries arose for the immediate repatriation of Sandy Toksvig. It was suggested that the words “Hands Off Our Marmite, You Bastards”, translated into Danish, should be spelt out in Lego bricks (which are made in Denmark) and left on the doorstep of the Danish embassy. Fearing an imminent riot in the streets, the embassy quickly denied there was any such ban. “ø nø,” they prissily cried, “All we said was that fortified foods can’t be marketed in Denmark unless they’ve been approved by Danish food authorities – and they haven’t given their approval yet, ok?”

They may sound like reasonable people, but sooner or later the old antlered helmet pokes out, doesn’t it? In Copenhagen, shops selling English goods are now being visited by goon squads, asking to see the owner’s “official papers” that prove he’s allowed to sell Marmite. It’s like an episode of ‘Allo, ‘Allo, with a Nazi-coated SS officer grating, “I demand to see your Marmite Papers zis instant!”

The intensely flavoured yeast extract that we (mostly) love isn’t the only food under scrutiny. The Danes have similarly withheld their approval of Rice Krispies, Horlicks, Ovaltine and Farley’s Rusks, for the same reason – they’re foods with “added vitamins and minerals”. That can’t be the real reason, can it? I thought vitamins were, broadly speaking, good for you – and they mostly dissolve inside the body and get flushed out the usual way, leaving no residue behind. No, the real reason is obviously that the Danes, descended from plunderers and ravagers, have decided that some British foods – warm night-time beverages, baby teething rusks, milky morning cereals – are insufficiently butch and hearty to be allowed house-room in their manly shops.

They doth protest too much, methinks. They’re uncomfortably aware that their own contribution to world cuisine ain’t exactly ambrosia. Indeed, trying to find actual Danish dishes is jolly hard. The classic Danish cookery book, Fru Magnor, deals mostly in French cuisine. Of Denmark’s 11 official cheeses, 10 are copies from Edam, Gorgonzola and other foreigners. The one and only edible Danish export is, of course, the Pastry – that famously nourishing and healthy combination of dough, jam, cream, flavoured sugar and butter, almond paste and sticky syrup. Is it rude to point out that the Danish name for Danish pastries is Wienerbrod or “Vienna bread”? So even Danish pastries don’t come from Denmark…

Their saving grace is that they have Rene Redzepi, whose Copenhagen restaurant Noma has won the San Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World award two years running. I don’t think, however, this should allow the Danes to pontificate about the acceptability of classic British foodstuffs. They’ll be having a go at Fray Benton tinned pies next. And Bird’s Eye Custard Powder. Imagine.

Comment by John Walsh, columnist at The Independent