Danes Propose Cinnamon Bun Ban Due To Toxic Coumarin
December 27, 2013

Danes Propose Cinnamon Bun Ban Due To Toxic Coumarin

[ Watch the Video: Denmark May Say Bye-Bye To The Danish ]

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

If new EU food regulations are enforced in Denmark, the best place to get an authentic tasting danish might be at your local Cinnabon. Due to concerns over the harmful effects of cinnamon, Danish regulators have proposed outlawing the danish, called a “kanelsnegler” in the pastry’s native Scandinavian country.

The banning of the food would be in accordance with new EU regulations restricting the public’s exposure to coumarin, a naturally occurring toxic chemical found in a common type of cinnamon. Research has shown that coumarin can cause damage to the liver.

Under the Danish interpretation of the EU regulation, only 15 mg of cinnamon can be used per kilogram of baked goods. According to a recent survey from the Danish Food Administration, almost half of the country’s "fine baked goods" tested were over the limit for cinnamon.

"It's the end of the cinnamon roll as we know it," proclaimed Hardy Christensen, the head of the Danish Baker's Association. "Cinnamon rolls are of course a traditional Danish baked product. We've been making bread and cakes with cinnamon for 200 years."

In an interesting twist to the danish conundrum, EU policymakers had carved out exceptions for both traditional and seasonal foods. In fact, Swedish officials have used these carve-outs to exempt their country’s traditional pastry, the kanenbullar. The exempted pastries must still have 50 mg or less of cinnamon per kilogram.

Following a public outcry, Danish officials have punted on the issue – delaying their decision on an official ban until February and recommending that "heavy users of cinnamon should limit their intake.”

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration does not currently set limits on coumarin. However, it is illegal to add the toxin to products that don't already contain it.

Research has indicated that the average adult would need to consume a considerable amount of cinnamon to see any toxic effects. According to the European Food Safety Authority, the daily limit for adults is one teaspoon, the amount used to make a whole batch of cookies.

However, concerns over cinnamon’s effects on children could be valid, as well as those who consider the spice a daily health supplement. For a child weighing 30 pounds, European recommendation call for less than a quarter teaspoon per day, which could be equal to a bit of cinnamon and sugar on that daily bowl of morning oatmeal.

A recent survey of US foods published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found some breakfast cereals, granola bars and other products contain levels of coumarin that would exceed Europe's recommendations for a young child.

Study author Ikhlas A. Khan, an assistant director of the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, emphasized that children eating a typical diet probably won’t see any ill effects from coumarin.

"It's not a hard and fast, 'If you eat this particular cereal in this quantity you're going to get something,'" Khan told Sidsel Overgaard of NPR.

He said people of all ages who already have a liver condition should consider watching their cinnamon intake.