The hard-working people running Get Baked, a bakery in Leeds, England, were having a normal day—until, as the owner described, a “man in a boring tie” from West Yorkshire Trading Standards paid them a visit. The cause? A customer had inspected her pastry and reported the bakery for using illegal sprinkles, sparking a scandal now known as “Sprinklegate.”1
That’s right: illegal sprinkles. The bakery imported sprinkles containing the dye known as Red 3 (also called E127 or erythrosine), which is illegal in the United Kingdom under a regulation inherited from the European Union.2
Sprinkles are key at Get Baked, whose distressed owner, Rich Myers, wrote on the bakery’s Facebook page:
Whilst this might seem like it’s not a big deal, it’s actually very f******* annoying, as A LOT of people ask for Birthday Bruces [a chocolate cake with sprinkles] and Raspberry Glazed Donut Cookies are not only our best selling cookie, but they’re utterly sensational. It is HIGHLY unlikely that we will find any legal sprinkles that we will use as a replacement. British sprinkles just aren’t the same, they’re totally s*** and I hate them. I am extremely passionate about sprinkles. . . . We will obviously need to make some adjustments to the menu in order to compensate for this truly horrendous ordeal.3
Sprinkles clearly are an important ingredient for this baker. Shouldn’t he be able to use the ones he deems best? . . .
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1. Darren Boyle, “Trading Standards Order Bakery to Stop Decorating Cakes with ‘Illegal’ SPRINKLES Imported from the US—after a Single Complaint,” Daily Mail, October 13, 2021, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10087651/Leeds-bakery-hits-customer-reports-trading-standards-illegal-sprinkles.html.
2. European Union Food Additives database, https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/foods_system/main/index.cfm?event=substance.view&identifier=14 (accessed November 17, 2021).
3. Boyle, “Trading Standards Order Bakery to Stop Decorating Cakes with ‘Illegal’ SPRINKLES Imported from the US—after a Single Complaint.”
4. Red 3 may be used in cocktail and candied cherries. It was originally banned due to concerns about its effect on thyroid health, but a review conducted by the European Food Safety Authority in 2011 concluded that the doses people consume as an additive are unlikely to have any negative health effects; however, it is still banned due to its links to hyperactivity in children; see “Scientific Opinion on the Re-evaluation of Erythrosine (E 127) as a Food Additive,” European Food Safety Authority, January 27, 2011, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1854; Ash, “FAQ: E127,” The Cake Decorating Company, January 28, 2020, https://www.thecakedecoratingcompany.co.uk/blog/faq-e127/.
5. “UK Bakery Ordered to Stop Using Illegal US Sprinkles That Contain E127 Food Colouring,” ABC News Australia, October 15, 2021, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-15/get-baked-in-leeds-bakery-illegal-sprinkles-e127-food-colouring/100542128.
6. EU law clearly sets out what must be included on labels, prohibits substances “injurious to human health,” and defines what precautions must be taken to ensure food safety; see “Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers,” EUR-lex, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1583243043830&uri=CELEX:02011R1169-20180101 (accessed December 7, 2021); “Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 Laying Down the General Principles and Requirements of Food Law, Establishing the European Food Safety Authority and Laying Down Procedures in Matters of Food Safety,” Eur-lex, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32002R0178 (accessed December 7, 2021); “Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs,” EUR-lex, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2004/852/oj (accessed December 7, 2021).
7. “Additives: EU Rules,” European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food-improvement-agents/additives/eu-rules_en (accessed December 3, 2021).
8. “Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on Genetically Modified Food and Feed,” EUR-lex, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32003R1829&qid=1638547273466 (accessed December 3, 2021); “Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the Deliberate Release into the Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms and Repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC,” EUR-lex, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32001L0018&qid=1638547273466 (accessed December 3, 2021).
9. Maria Koumenta and Mario Pagliero, “Measuring Prevalence and Labour Market Impacts of Occupational Regulation in the EU,” European Commission, December 20, 2016, file:///C:/Users/Angel/Downloads/FINAL%20report%20prevalence%20of%20occupational%20regulation_publ%20dec%202016.pdf.
10. Remy Stern, “The Most Anal CEO Ever,” Gawker, October 28, 2011, https://www.gawker.com/5854161/the-most-anal-ceo-ever.