Denmark's Food Ministry have recently banned the sale and import of Marmite within the country, which has put Brits abroad and Brits at home up in arms. The outcry seems a bit disproportional and comical to outsiders, but devotees of Marmite living in Denmark have found the news hard to swallow. The yeast extract spread was developed in 1902 by a German scientist who discovered the byproducts of the beer brewing industry could be condensed into a thick gooey consistency. The spread has a gag-inducing salt content for those not knowing what to expect, but it became a staple in British kitchens from the start. If you think it sounds repulsive, half of the UK population would agree with you. Advertisers of Marmite have long embraced the products strong effect on people, coining the slogan, "Love it, or Hate it".
Marmite isn't the sole product that has been banned from Danish shelves, but was somehow missed in the initial clearing when the Danish Food Ministry banned all foods fortified with vitamins to protect people from consuming more than the recommended daily amount. The Danish Embassy in London released a statement earlier this week, explaining that, “fortified foods with added vitamins, minerals or other substances can not be marketed in Denmark unless approved by Danish food authorities.” The ban is an attempt to promote Danish citizens to find their vitamins through natural sources in fruits and vegetables. Marmite, like many other foods, has used added vitamins and minerals as a selling point, boasting Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid.
Columnist Tom Clark for the Guardian, echoed the personal attack felt by many of the Brits who don't understand the virtue of the ban. He noted the thriftiness of the product, saying it not only utilizes waste products, but the taste is so strong, that it can only be used sparingly, therefore, shouldn't impose a threat of a vitamin-overdose. He admitted that it is best to get one's vitamins from natural sources, but countered, "…no sane regulator of diets for pasty, podgy Europeans ought to make the best the enemy of the good.”
The hysteria surrounding the situation has put British ex-pats around Europe on high alert as other countries within the EU are contemplating similar bans on fortified foods. Marmite can be found in international sections of some groceries in the US, so if you're curious, you best go out an buy a bottle before the controversy becomes transatlantic.
Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics