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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Smoky bacon flavour may be banned
The end for smoky bacon crisps?

The Council of the European Union is considering a ban on smoky bacon flavouring amid concerns that it may increase the risk of developing cancer.

Studies have found an increased risk of certain cancers in countries where there is a high consumption of smoked foods.

However, the research has only uncovered an association - and no definitive proof of cause and effect.

The proposed regulations would cover all artificially flavoured smoked foods including ham, fish, barbecue sauces, flame-grilled burgers and snack foods.

We have to make sure science fact takes over from science fiction
Chris Heaton-Harris MEP

People in Britain spend 5bn a year on crisps, eating more snacks than any other European country, and there is a fear among some MEPs that these new measures will impact disproportionately on the domestic industry.

Chris Heaton-Harris, a member of the European Parliament, said the smoky bacon flavour was a uniquely British and Irish preference.

He said: "We have to make sure science fact takes over from science fiction.

"We have had a number of daft laws from Europe and this specifically affects the food-and-drink industry in the East Midlands."

As East Midlands MEP he said he was concerned for food companies who mass produced smoky bacon crisps.

Robert Goodwill, MEP for Yorkshire and Humber and also a committee member, criticised the proposals as "over the top".

He said the flavouring was a natural one produced by passing smoke through water to create an extract.

By that logic, Mr Goodwill said, traditionally smoked foods which contain the same chemicals in equal or greater quantities should also be banned.

He said: "I think (a ban) is disproportionate to the possible risks.

"People have been eating smoked food for generations without any health problems being noticed."

The proposals are due to go before a full vote of the European Parliament within two weeks.

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