Widespread expressions of outrage greeted the news last month that the British yeast spread, along with the Australian version, Vegemite, were to be banned in Denmark for, as one UK broadsheet put it, “containing too many vitamins”.
Other fortified foods like Ovaltine and Horlicks were also said to be banned.
The Danish Embassy in London has responded to the furore by issuing a clarifying statement that neither Marmite or Vegemite were in fact banned, although they did not have marketing authorisations as required by the EU regulation on the addition of vitamins and minerals and of certain other substances to foods (1925/2006).
“Neither Marmite nor Vegemite and similar products have been banned by the Danish Food And Veterinary Administration (DVFA),” the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said of the spread that contains contains thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B12 and folic acid (vitamin B9).
“However, fortified foods with added vitamins, minerals or other substances can not be marketed in Denmark unless approved by Danish food authorities. According to the Danish Order on food additives, addition of vitamins, minerals and other substances need to be approved by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration before the product can be marketed in Denmark.
The Danish Food and Veterinary Administration has not received an application for marketing in Denmark of Marmite or similar products with added vitamins or minerals. Other fortified food products have been approved by Danish food authorities and are being marketed in Denmark."
Typical of the response to the initial ban announcement was that of the UK Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament, Liz Lynne, who said she was, “appalled to hear the initial reports of a Danish banof this much loved British product.”
"I immediately took my Danish (MEP) colleagues to task, only to find that no licence had been granted in Denmark for the sale of Marmite in the first place," she said in the UK Daily Telegraph, urging Marmite maker Unilever to apply for a license.
Unilever was unavailable to confirm if it would apply for a marketing authorisation in Denmark.
But press reports said Kraft, the maker of Vegemite, had applied and been rejected by the DVFA, although a DVFA spokseperson said he could not locate the record of that.
“Eaten safely by all parts of the population”
The DVFA said its National Food Institute assessed each application on a “case-by-case” basis.
“The purpose of the risk assessment is to ensure, that the fortified product can be eaten safely by all parts of the population,” the DVFA said.
“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. The Danish method for conducting the risk assessment concerning vitamins and minerals has been published in the European Journal of Nutrition, October 2005.”
More information about its fortified food policies can be found here.
This story has been amended because it initially referred to the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR), not the regulation on the addition of vitamins and minerals and of certain other substances to foods (1925/2006) as now appears.