EU health concerns threaten Czech rum

EPA/FILIP SINGER

A vendor covers shelves filled with hard alocohol at a shop in Prague, Czech Republic.

EU health concerns threaten Czech rum


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Food regulators in Brussels are checking the flavouring chemicals in Czech rum. A chemical used to create the artificial rum flavour is suspected by the European Food Safety Authority of being carcinogenic.

An EFSA report published in August concluded that some chemical components in rum ether “are carcinogenic and genotoxic” and as a result “rum ether is of safety concern”. T

As reported by PRAGUE TV, the European Commission will evaluate the information and could ban the chemical from use in food and beverages across the European Union.

If this happens, Czech Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) will ask for an exception so that tuzemák, commonly called Czech rum, can still be made, according to daily Hospodářské noviny. He added that Czech rum was a traditional alcohol that is also used in cooking.

“We want to negotiate with the European Commission and with the European Food Safety Authority. We will want all the documents and want to know if the small amount that is in tuzemák is dangerous,” Jurečka said.

The European Commission has granted exceptions before when banned substances were a part of traditional culture. Some fish in the Baltic States and Scandinavia were granted exceptions, but cannot be exported.

Producers of Czech rum say that the rum flavour in the final product is highly diluted. They also say the ban would hurt business.

Czech rum was first made in the 19th century from potatoes or sugar beets plus added flavours, and was sold throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The empire had no colonies in the Caribbean, and no cheap source for sugar cane.

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