The Southeastern Mediterranean citizens of the bloc are at unrest, as the culinary version of a hamburger ‘may be about to get skewered’ by Brussels, according to media reports.

This happened as the European Parliament’s Health Committee raised concerns about the impacts of phosphates that are used as food additives.

The Health Committee of the EU’s legislative body objected on Tuesday to a proposal by the EU executive to allow the use of phosphoric acid, di and triphosphates and polyphosphates (E 338-452) to frozen gyros – döner kebab meat.  The additive is currently allowed in fresh meat, but there is no explicit regulation on its use in frozen döner meat, as according to a 2012 scientific review, there is a potential link between phosphate additives in food with increased cardiovascular risk.

On the other hand, a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessment, stated that it is not possible to attribute this risk to phosphorus intake in general or phosphate additives. EFSA suggested that the safety of phosphates food additives will be re-evaluated by 31 December 2018.

After a series of loud articles in newspapers about “the end of kebabs and gyros”, the European Commission and the European Parliament reacted to the media reports.

Susanne Melior, an S&D MEP from Germany rejected on Thursday the notion that the döner was under threat, as the Health Committee raised the objection because it wanted to wait on an EU study into phosphate before green-lighting a change in the law, but not before the findings are released in 2018. “Nothing is happening and no döner kebab is in danger, so naturally no jobs are in danger either,” she said.

European Commission: Our role is to ensure that food is safe

A European Commission spokesperson reacted to the media reports on the use of phosphates in food and told New Europe: “Let us be clear. The EU is not banning ‘kebab’, our role is to ensure that food is safe.”

According to the EU executive spokesperson, the Berlaymont proposed the extension of the possibility to use the food additive called ‘phosphate’ which is necessary for certain spits meat preparations, such as the types mentioned above. “The additive enables homogenous freezing which prevents the risk of unbalanced heat-treatment thus ensuring the roast meat strips served to consumers are safe,” the EU spokesperson adds.

“The draft proposal of the European Commission was not rejected, but received a strong support by member states at the Standing Committee on 25 September 2017, where 24 Member States voted in favour,” said the EU spokesperson, underlining that not a single EU member state questioned the safety of the proposed use to the Standing Committee.