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Belgium's chip culture could be at risk if Europe passes fried food regulations
The traditional way of making fries in Belgium – recognised as protected cultural heritage by the government of Flanders – could be in danger, tourism minister Ben Weyts has suggested. The EU is considering regulations that would limit the chemical acrylamide from reaching consumers.
Acrylamide is a natural result of frying some foods at high temperatures. Potatoes in particular produce what some experts consider to be a dangerous level of acrylamide, which is being studied as a cancer-causing chemical.
If requirements are made to alter methods of cooking to limit acrylamides to a certain level, the fries would have to be blanched – or pre-cooked – before being delivered to frietkots and other outlets serving fries. That would mean those outlets would not be able to fry them twice – a Belgian tradition that has made the country’s fries famous around the world.
In a letter to European food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, Weyts said he supported efforts to minimise consumption of acrylamide. “It is important, however, to think carefully and not take measures that have unintended and far-reaching consequences for our rich gastronomic tradition.”
The government’s heritage recognition covers the knowledge and traditions of the friet culture, as well as the famed frietkot – the roadside stands where frieten are sold with all the trimmings.