A bit­ter pill to swal­low

News that too much cin­na­mon can cause liver dam­age and amount used in food must be lim­ited gets rise out of bak­ers.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By HE­LEN RUS­SELL

IT’S a case of su­gar and spice and all things not-so-nice in Den­mark where cin­na­mon­gate is pit­ting Dan­ish food au­thor­i­ties against the na­tion’s bak­ers. The iss­sue: is the spice, a sta­ple of the Dan­ish pas­try and one of the quin­tes­sen­tial fra­grances of a Christ­mas kitchen, good for you or not?

For years, cin­na­mon has en­joyed a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing some­thing of a su­per spice with claims that it could help lower blood su­gar, fight bac­te­ria, re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and help to treat poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome.

But sci­en­tists have now dis­cov­ered that too much of the most com­monly used type of cin­na­mon, cas­sia, can cause liver dam­age thanks to high lev­els of coumarin, a nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ent found in the spice. Ex­perts now rec­om­mend a tol­er­a­ble daily in­take (TDI) of 0.1mg of coumarin per kilo of body weight per day.

As a re­sult, the EU has laid down guide­lines for the max­i­mum con­tent of coumarin in food­stuffs – 50mg per kilo of dough in tra­di­tional or sea­sonal foods that are only con­sumed oc­ca­sion­ally, and 15mg per kilo of dough in what it terms as ev­ery­day fine baked goods.

Last month, the Dan­ish food au­thor­ity ruled that the na­tion’s fa­mous cin­na­mon swirls were nei­ther tra­di­tional nor sea­sonal, thus lim­it­ing the quan­tity of cin­na­mon that bak­ers are al­lowed to use, plac­ing the pas­try at risk – and spark­ing a na­tional outcry that could be dubbed the great Dan­ish bake strop.

The pres­i­dent of the Dan­ish Bak­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, Hardy Chris­tensen, said: “We’ve been mak­ing bread and cakes with cin­na­mon for 200 years.

Then sud­denly the gov­ern­ment says th­ese pas­tries are not tra­di­tional? I have been a baker for 43 years and never come across any­thing like this – it’s crazy. Us­ing lower amounts of the spice will change the dis­tinc­tive flavour and pro­duce less tasty pas­tries. Nor­mally, we do as we’re told by the gov­ern­ment and say OK, but now it’s time to take a stand. Enough is enough.”

The union has vowed to take on the state in the great dough de­bate. “We un­der­stand that the gov­ern­ment wants to keep us safe – and a child who weighs 15kg will have reached their daily dose of cin­na­mon by eat­ing half a kanel­sne­gle – a cin­na­mon swirl – if we con­tinue to have 50mg of coumarin per kilo of baked prod­uct,” said An­ders Grabow of the Dan­ish Bak­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. “But if a child that young eats that much pas­try ev­ery day, they’re on the fast track to obe­sity and cin­na­mon is the least of their wor­ries.”

“The av­er­age adult Dane prob­a­bly eats a pas­try once or twice a week, so the ac­tual in­take of cin­na­mon from cin­na­mon swirls for most Danes is very lit­tle.”

What’s adding to the per­ceived in­jus­tice for many Danes is that their Swedish neigh­bours can carry on en­joy­ing cin­na­mon buns as nor­mal.

“Back in 2008, the Swedes elected to cat­e­gorise a very sim­i­lar prod­uct to our kanel­sne­gle as a tra­di­tional baked good, which can there­fore have the higher quan­tity of cin­na­mon in it,” said Grabow. “It was as­sumed that Den­mark would do the same so it took us by an even greater sur­prise when we learned about the new rules.”

Dan­ish bak­ers have looked into the pos­si­bil­ity of switch­ing to low-coumarin Cey­lon va­ri­ety of the spice, said Grabow: “But it doesn’t taste like the cin­na­mon we know in Europe and loses a lot of its flavour when baked – so the fin­ished prod­uct isn’t the same.”

An­gry Danes want their buns re­clas­si­fied quickly, but they’ll have to wait un­til Fe­bru­ary for a res­o­lu­tion of the hot bak­ing is­sue. Grabow said: “We’ve agreed to as­sem­ble as much knowl­edge as we can on Danes’ con­sump­tion of cin­na­mon for a meet­ing with the food au­thor­ity.”

And if the au­thor­i­ties won’t agree to re­cat­e­gorise the iconic pas­try? “Then the kanel­sne­gle as we know it will be threat­ened.”

For now, Dan­ish pas­try lovers are stock­ing up on kanel­sne­gle while they still can – and cross­ing their fin­gers for Fe­bru­ary. – Guardian News & Me­dia

Sticky sit­u­a­tion: Sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered that too much of the most com­monly used type of cin­na­mon, cas­sia, can cause liver dam­age thanks to high lev­els of coumarin, a nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ent found in the spice.

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