Lifestyle & Belief

Enough already with the cinnamon this holiday season

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Credit:

Antti Vähä-Sipilä via Wikimedia

Cinnamon is poison.

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I'm joking, of course. I just can't stand the taste. The bad news for me is that in America, you can't escape cinnamon. And you can't escape the assumption that it's universally loved.

The majority view is that cinnamon is as American as... well, apple pie, except that you often can't taste the apples for the mounds of cinnamon.

Before you decide I'm just some flavor-challenged outlier, I assure you there are many of us — people who have moved to the United States from countries where cinnamon isn't shovelled onto every fruit or pastry, or stirred into hot beverages. We meet, we exchange notes, we invite each other to cinnamon-free soirees. We plot. And because of some news out of Denmark, we're excited.

Danes are almost as cinnamon-obsessed as Americans. So they have not reacted kindly to a directive from the European Union that regulates cinnamon use.

The version of cinnamon that mass-market bakers use contains a toxin called coumarin. Too much coumarin can damage the liver. 

How much is too much? According to the EU, it's a sliding scale: fifteen milligrams per kilogram is the limit for regular baked goods. But if an item is deemed "traditional" or "seasonal," you can pile on more than three times that amount: fifty milligrams per kilo.

That should serve as a health warning for any food labelled "traditional." Don't say I didn't warn you.

Bakers in Denmark are beside themselves. First, because their government didn't claim the traditional or seasonal food exemption. And second, because no one in living memory has gotten sick eating kanelsnegler, or cinnamon snails. At least, that's what the Danish bakers say. 

But what the cinnamon lobby must now accept is that in Europe, cinnamon is a controlled substance.

Here in the US, the struggle continues — in the face of unrelenting propaganda. 

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