German pretzel bakers tied up in knots over EU rules

Don’t worry Oktoberfest devotees, those Roquefort-munching geeks in Brussels are not trying to ban your pretzels. What’s that you say? You didn’t know the EU wanted to ban pretzels? Neither did the EU apparently. At the heart of the issue are new rules on nutritional information to be placed on food products. Bakers would be ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
588237_090225_pretzel5.jpg
588237_090225_pretzel5.jpg

Don't worry Oktoberfest devotees, those Roquefort-munching geeks in Brussels are not trying to ban your pretzels. What's that you say? You didn't know the EU wanted to ban pretzels? Neither did the EU apparently.

At the heart of the issue are new rules on nutritional information to be placed on food products.

Bakers would be free to make no health claims for their bread. If however they specify that it is 'high in fibre' then they would also be obliged to tell consumers that it is also 'high in salt'.

Don’t worry Oktoberfest devotees, those Roquefort-munching geeks in Brussels are not trying to ban your pretzels. What’s that you say? You didn’t know the EU wanted to ban pretzels? Neither did the EU apparently.

At the heart of the issue are new rules on nutritional information to be placed on food products.

Bakers would be free to make no health claims for their bread. If however they specify that it is ‘high in fibre’ then they would also be obliged to tell consumers that it is also ‘high in salt’.

The rule was adopted in 2006 but discussions are still under way — with input from the food industry — on how they are going to be introduced and what levels would constitute a product being deemed ‘low’ or ‘high’ in anything.

A bit of a nanny state annoyance perhaps, but the German media went a bit overboard after the Association of German bakers claimed that German pretzel culture would be “hemmed in” by the sodium labelling rules since “there is more salt in bread in Germany compared with elsewhere in the EU.” 

“EU Wants to Spoil Our Pretzels!” screamed the tabloid Bild. An EU spokeswoman quickly reassured worried Germans that there was no intention of banning or regulating salty bread. 

To be fair, given the EU’s infamous fatwa on bendy cucumbers, the bakers’ concerns are somewhat understandable.

  JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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