Danes ban Marmite

Ken writes:

According to this story in the Guardian, the Danes passed a law in 2004 banning foods fortified with added vitamins which has belatedly been applied to marmite.

I’m fond of marmite. It’s almost as good as vegemite. So it bothers me that Danes won’t be allowed to buy it in Denmark if they want to anymore.

It’s a shame that the article doesn’t explain why the Danes have banned food with added vitamins. As a parent of a small boy who would eat nothing but plain white bread or plain pasta if allowed too, vitamin enriched food seems like a wholly good thing. It’s a way of ensuring that the boys get some vitamins and minerals despite their best efforts.

Another thing that puzzles me about the ban is that it would seem to presuppose a starker distinction between additives and ingredients than I think the situation warrants. How do you tell if something is an additive rather than an ingredient? Our loaf of Brennan’s would presumably fall foul of the ban because it contains ascorbic acid, aka vitamin C, as a flour treatment agent. Presumably it’s added in powdered form, but what if it had been added in the form of orange juice or kiwifruit instead? Is salt (sodium chloride) an additive or an ingredient?

Do the Danes not countenance the possibility that adding man-made substances to our foods can actually improve them? Must we cook now as it would have been possible for our ancestors five or six generations ago to cook? That just seems like Luddism to me.

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7 thoughts on “Danes ban Marmite

  1. laura

    I would defend marmite before the Danish policies, but… I think the ban might be out of concern over combining certain fortified foods and supplements that people take. For example, I might eat 2- 3 (or a lot more) servings of breakfast cereal with added iron and then take a multi-vitamin with iron. If I followed such a regime it could lead to iron-overload and kill me. B vitamins (in marmite) are probably not as dangerous, but my guess is that studies indicate a risk of health problems related to over-consumption.

    1. kenanddot

      Laura, your suggestion seems to be right on the money. This is a statement from the Danish Veterinary and Food Agency

      In the case of vitamins and minerals the risk assessment includes calculations based on the upper tolerable levels established by international scientific bodies and available data from the national dietary surveys. In each case the addition is accepted unless the risk assessment concludes, that one or more population groups risk exceeding the upper tolerable level if the fortified product is placed on the market.

  2. mairij

    Banning Marmite does seem to be a bit extreme. I would think your jar of marmalade or jam would pose much more dietary harm from the purified sugar that is in them.

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