Proposed chip rule change causes rift between Belgium and the EU

An international gastronomic row is brewing in Brussels...

Proposed chip rule change causes rift between Belgium and the EU

Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/DPA/PA Images

The European Commission has upset local chip-makers in Brussels. It has proposed food safety rule changes which would change the way that potatoes are prepared before frying.

The EU fears that cooking untreated potatoes at a heat above 120C could result in the formation of acrylamide - a potentially hazardous compound.

A rule change could require that potatoes would need to be blanched - scalded in boiling water - before cooking.

Chip-makers argue that this will change the taste of the final product.

"It is important to be mindful not to take measures that have unintended and far-reaching consequences for our rich gastronomic tradition," Ben Weyts, the country's tourism minister wrote in a letter to the EU's Commissioner responsible for food, Vytenis Andriukaitis.

"Our fries owe their flavour to the craftsmanship of our chippies, who fry chips raw and then fry them a second time. I understand that outside our country they have different cultures. But we have our own cultural tradition. It would be a shame if the European Union prohibited it," he continued.

"The Commission has no intention whatsoever to ban Belgian frites or any other frites for that matter ... Instead, the Commission is preparing a new regulatory measure to oblige food business operators to apply a code of practice to reduce acrylamide in food, as it is carcinogenic," a spokesperson for the commission told The Guardian.

Belgian and Dutch frite makers first fry potatoes in beef or horse fat to cook the inside of the chip - then cook them again at a hotter heat to make the outside crispy.