Doner touch our kebabs: industry experts hit back against possible EU ban

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Many of us have tumbled into a kebab shop on a night out hoping the grease will do battle with the booze and end up winning by morning. But an EU clampdown on Britain’s favourite midnight feast could spoil the fun of revellers across the continent. The European parliament is concerned about the use of phosphates to keep meat juicy and moist even after hours on the spit. The move has sparked outrage, particularly in Germany where the humble doner is by far the most popular snack, far outstripping sausage and sauerkraut turnovers, and pretzels.

More than 2,500 tonnes of lamb and chicken doner are sold in the UK each week. Even Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a kebab lover, vegetarian versions of course, and appeared as the guest of honour at this year’s British Kebab Awards. “From takeaway to fine dining, kebabs are a firm favourite and an established part of our national cuisine,” says Corbyn.

The problem with phosphates

The additives act primarily as a kind of glue binding the meat so it doesn’t crumble on the spit. They also work as a preservative. But it’s thought phosphates can pose a risk our health, particularly for those with heart and kidney problems. The additives are also known as e-numbers and can be found in common sausages and other processed meats. European MPs will debate whether to tighten controls on their use next week.

‘Enjoyed since the 8th century BC’

“Doner kebabs are a much loved staple in takeaways up and down the country and have been enjoyed since the 8th century BC,” says Ibrahim Dogus, chair of the British Takeaway Campaign. “In many cases, such as in my own restaurants, kebabs are homemade and when served with a fresh salad and pitta bread offer consumers a healthy choice. “Restaurants are already responding to consumer demand by providing healthier options and adapting menus – from choosing lower fat oils to sourcing local produce. An EU ban on the doner would damage the takeaway industry – a sector which generates £4.5bn in economic growth to the UK and supports 231,000 jobs.”

The campaign to clean up kebabs

Mazlum Demir of Skewd Kitchen in Barnet, London, won chef of the year at the British Kebab Awards 2017. His restaurant is seeking to clean up Turkish cuisine as we know it in the UK. “Everything is prepared in house fresh on a daily basis – the breads, the sauces, everything. There’s no preservatives. We want to be the top Turkish restaurant in the UK,” says Faruk Diyenli of Skewd Kitchen. “Turkish food isn’t what it’s made out to be. Unfortunately it got a bad rap as weekend booze food, we’re trying to buck that trend.” He added: “What we’re putting on the table looks lovely and says ‘come and eat me.'”

What about the naughty kind?

Despite the availability of more high-end Turkish kebabs, Brits may always have a hankering for the preservative-ridden, greasy kind. Whether the EU will allow them to go on eating them in their current form is another matter.

Published on INews on 8th Dec 2017

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