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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 April 2006, 03:18 GMT 04:18 UK
Airlines ban 'foul' Swedish fish
By Lars Bevanger
BBC News

Sweden's national dish is an acquired taste, to say the least.

Some say surstromming, a fermented herring, smells like rubbish left out in the sun for days.

But now the fish has been banned from several major airlines, classified along with dangerous weapons like shoe bombs and firearms.

The Baltic herring is fermented in barrels for months before being put in tin cans, where the fermentation process continues.

The decision has made many Swedes very angry indeed.

Surstromming is as Swedish as Volvo and Ikea.

Some say it is simply rotten fish, which smells like rotten fish. Others argue it is the finest of delicacies.

National symbol

But now major airlines like British Airways and Air France argue the cans are pressurised goods, and must be classified as potentially explosive.

The dish is no longer allowed on their flights, and the sale of the delicacy from Stockholm's international airport has been stopped.

That has made producers of the surstromming choke on their fermented fish, calling the airlines' decision "culturally illiterate".

It is a myth, they say, that the tinned fish can explode.

They admit, however, that a punctured tin would emit a foul smell, and that the content might spill quite forcefully, like a punctured can of beer.

But that is not enough to stop the export of a potent national symbol, the herring supporters argue.

The leader of the Swedish Surstromming Academy, an organisation promoting the dish nationally and internationally, said any airline worried about explosives and foul smells should first ban bottles of champagne and French cheese before attacking the pride of the Swedish cuisine.

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