Saturday, October 30, 2004

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Hungary in crisis

The Guardian reports on a serious crisis in Hungary:

It is the country's national spice, a fiery seasoning of which the average Hungarian devours half a kilogramme a year. But now consumers in Hungary been advised to steer clear of paprika.
Shop shelves are being cleared of the spice and products that contain it after a possibly carcinogenic toxin was found in supplies.

The police are investigating whether South America was the origin of a batch of paprika containing high levels of the chemical aflatoxin, which was distributed by three Hungarian companies.

In some cases, the concentration was 10-15 times higher than the permitted level. The chemical can lead to illnesses such as liver cancer if consumed in large amounts.

The EU has advised member states that they can ban paprika products from Hungary.

Sales of the spice, an important ingredient of the national dish goulash, were banned on Thursday, and dozens of products are being tested....

Hungary is one of the biggest paprika exporters in the world, about 5,000 tonnes a year going most to Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Slovakia.

Hungary without paprika is like... like... [China without rice? Italy without pasta? Russia without cabbage?--ed.] No, it's worse than that. There are dishes in those countries without the essential ingredient. I'm sure it's true of Hungary as well, but during my time there, I can't recall of a single thing I ate that didn't have paprika in it [Even the paprika ice cream?--ed. Oh, shut up.]

Everyone here at wishes the Hungarians the best of luck as they deal with this gastronomic crisis.

posted by Dan on 10.30.04 at 07:54 PM


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