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Belgian fries too ‘chic’ for EU ban

/ 01:53 PM June 22, 2017

Josiane Devlaeminck serves Belgian fries to customers at the Atomium “fritkot,” the Flemish word for fries stand, in Brussels on Feburary 7, 2011. Image: AFP/Georges Gobet

The European Commission staunchly denied Tuesday that it was trying to ban Belgian fries, saying Belgium’s deep fried treat was too “chic” to fall victim to Brussels’ red tape.

The European Union’s vast bureaucracy was responding to questions over the fate of Belgium’s famed chips if a proposed ban limiting the presence of a controversial chemical in food were to pass.

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Acrylamide, which is being studied as a cancer-causing chemical, is produced during frying at high temperatures and is found at levels considered dangerous by some experts in potatoes and especially Belgian fries.

The Belgian recipe, which gives the chips their special flavor, requires double frying which increases the presence of the chemical.

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The chip panic erupted when Flemish tourism minister, Ben Weyts, wrote a letter to Vytenis Andriukaitis, the E.U.’s commissioner for food security, defending the famous Belgian fries.

It is important to “take cautious steps and not take any measures that have unwanted and far-reaching consequences for our rich gastronomic tradition,” Weyts wrote.

Weyts feared that Belgian-style frying would no longer be possible under more stringent rules on acrylamide in food.

“The commission has no intention of banning Belgian fries or any other types of fries,” commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a daily briefing.

“‘La frite, c’est chic’ (Fries are chic), so let’s talk about more crispy topics,” he joked. JB/rga

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TAGS: acrylamide, Belgian fries, Brussels, chips, European Union, French fries
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