The European Commission is attempting to clear up “myths and misunderstandings” surrounding certain food products ahead of the EU enlargement.
Citing various examples of local rumours, the Commission said any perceived threat from EU legislation to treasured regional cuisine can quickly spark column inches in newspapers.
A rumour doing the rounds in the Czech Republic, one of ten countries joining the EU at the beginning of May, warns that under EU law, cream cakes cannot be sold without a wrapper. However, the Commission said that this is in fact false.
“The EU’s hygiene rules require steps to be taken to prevent the spread of germs in places where food is sold, but this does not necessarily mean that cream cakes must be sold in wrappers. Cream cakes are sold without wrappers in a number of EU countries,” the Commission said.
In Poland, there are fears that Polish marinated cucumbers, known as ogórek kiszony, will be banned because the cucumbers used for marinating are very small and do not conform to European standards. However, the EU said that this rumour was also false, and that there are no problems with either the marinating process or the size of Polish cucumbers.
“But ogórek kiszony was a subject of debate because there are no restrictions at all on cucumbers weighing less than 180g and a new way had to be found to categorise them for the European market,” the Commission added.
In Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic there is a rumour that the private slaughtering of pigs will be banned, along with homemade meat specialities.
In debunking this rumour, the Commission said member states are entitled to allow the home-slaughter of pigs, chickens, rabbits, sheep and goats, provided the animals are being killed for personal consumption by their owners.
“Of course, meat being sold commercially will have to come from animals killed in slaughter-houses that comply with EU rules on hygiene and humane slaughter,” it added.