Contraband Confection: UK Food Standards Spike American Sprinkles

Contraband Confection: UK Food Standards Spike American Sprinkles


In a turn of events that sounds like a premise to a Christmas TV movie, a bakery in the north of England has gone public with news that their favoured sprinkles – a signature component of their raspberry-glazed doughnut cookie – have been banned.

Dubbed #sprinklegate on social media, the kerfuffle has its source in the red dye used in the American-made sprinkles: Erythrosine, or E127. In the UK, E127 is only cleared for use in maraschino or candied cherries; its appearance in the sprinkles renders the colourful accents verboten.

For such a seemingly low stakes situation, the loss of the sprinkles has resulted in a major headache for Rich Myers, founder of Leeds’ Get Baked bakery.

“Myers said he bought the offending sprinkles from a UK wholesaler, and said he had no idea there was any issue until West Yorkshire Trading Standards visited the business on September 30. ‘I thought it was a joke at first, I thought it was someone pulling a prank,’ he said on Thursday.

‘It’s quite an intimidating process really, being interviewed by Trading Standards. It’s not something you expect to happen when you run a little bakery. […]

For now, the bakery has swapped the sprinkles for icing sugar. ‘British sprinkles just aren’t good enough, they’re just not worth using,’ said Myers. ‘Until I can find a sprinkle that’s legal that is worth using we’ll just continue to use something else.’”

As food-makers ourselves, we at DFC recognize the importance of being careful about ingredients. Though it’s an inconvenience to Mr Myers, the banning of his sprinkles is actually a food safety success story – pointing toward how lax American standards can be compared to other countries’ standards.

That the dye is okayed for candied cherries in the UK is a bit nonsensical, as, I assume, more of it would end up inside a consumer per treat… But then I’m not an expert, nor am I a representative of West Yorkshire Trading Standards (who in the Christmas movie version I imagine to be played by Dabney Coleman, opposite Idris Elba as The Baker). Hopefully, Britain’s industry will kick in and fill the sprinkle gap with a better – and legal – product Until then, I’d happily put up with icing sugar!

Cheers to Mustard: A Classic Brand’s Boozy Reimagining

As a professional mustard-maker, I respect those who blazed a trail for us. Once upon a time, the flavour of mustard itself was exotic enough; now, we get to mess around with all kinds of amazing taste combos! One such old-timer is Grey Poupon, the venerable dijon whose “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?” tagline was everywhere for a while. (Remember when we got our viral content from T.V. commercials? A simpler time…!)

Grey Poupon is now cashing in on its fancy-schmancy reputation and updating its image in one fell swoop, by premiering a product called La Moutarde Vin – a white wine infused with… mustard grains?!

Upon encountering this news, I briefly thought I could hear the sound of Aldo Sohm rolling in his grave, but a) the world-class sommelier is still very much with us, and b) the creators seem to have paid a good deal of attention to the craft behind this wine. Like the Taco Bell Jalapeño Noir we wrote about last year, La Moutarde Vin seems more than just its surface gimmick. From Forbes:

“The wine is a 2020 Viognier that has been infused with the same mustard seeds used in the mustard. Unlike many mustards which have a base of vinegar, Grey Poupon’s recipe uses white wine, which adds richness and flavor, says Danielle Coopersmith, brand manager for sandwich enhancers at Kraft Heinz, which makes Grey Poupon. […]

Coopersmith describes this full-bodied Viognier as having bright hints of spice and pronounced citrus and floral characteristics, balanced by vibrant acidity. ‘It delivers the typical texture and roundness on the palate you’d expect from a Viognier,’ she says. ‘It is best served chilled, and pairs perfectly with a classic croque monsieur, Dijon maple-glazed salmon, or a beautiful meat and cheese charcuterie board and of course, Grey Poupon.’”

Of course, the enjoyment of any wine is in the mouth of the beholder. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to withhold my opinion because the limited edition “perfect wine for those who want to have their lunch and enjoy it too” is, naturally, sold out.

I commend the wine experts hired by giant multinational conglomerate Kraft Heinz for their creativity, even if I don’t get to enjoy it! And I will take inspiration from them as well – perhaps a DFC-mustard wine could be somewhere in our future?

DNA Decodes Lobster Lifespans


I have deep respect for the lobster. Any creature as ferociously familial, as gorgeous, and, yes, as tasty as these crustaceans are deserved our admiration.  We can add to this list of lobster pros their long-rumoured longevity – now confirmed by science, and rivalling our own lifespans!

The University of East Anglia, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science of the United Kingdom, and National Lobster Hatchery (UK) have teamed up to find a foolproof method of figuring out the true age of lobsters. Until now, size has been used as a rule-of-thumb, as well as (like a tree!) counting the rings on abdomens and eyestalks. However, the former method can be inaccurate, and the latter can only be performed on dead individual lobsters. Knowing the age spread of a living population helps inform us of the lobsters’ general health, which is key to keeping them stable and fish-able. Recently published in the journal Evolutionary Applications, the team’s results are chock-full of delicious genetic science!

“The method the team came up with relies on the ribosomal DNA of the European lobster (Homarus gammarus). As the crustaceans age, parts of the DNA strand will gain or lose a methyl group, which typically attaches to where cytosine precedes guanine in the genetic code. The way some of these methyl groups are added or removed from the lobsters’ DNA is precisely correlated with the animals’ ages, the team realized. […]

The technique isn’t perfect. As the animals get older, the team’s model must extrapolate their ages to a greater degree. So while younger lobsters’ ages could be determined within a couple of months of their true age, things get hazier when the animals have a good run at life. Some of the lobsters the team looked at in their study were over four years old, but European lobsters can live to 70 years – nearly the average human life expectancy – and American lobsters can become centenarians.”

The next time I have the privilege of tucking into a bisque, mac and cheese, or even perfectly poached tail, I will spare a thought of thanks for the former owner of the meat inside. As well as to the scientists: Thanks to their human curiosity, I can rest assured that the contents of my plate will have been carefully managed. That’s the least we can do as animal eaters; be responsible now and set up continued responsibility in the future – where there will be lobster for everyone!