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The popular UK flavor is banned across Europe due to health concerns

Crispy potato chips

A popular crunchy flavor is banned by the European Union (Image: Getty Images)

Britons may struggle to find their favorite snack when they go on holiday in the future, as the European Union has decided to ban crisps with smoked bacon.

The decision will likely come as a shock to Frazzles fans, but it follows research by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which found some artificial smoke flavors to be a potential health concern.

Flavorings are used as an alternative to smoking meat and as a way to bring smoky flavor to items that cannot be cooked over a flame or in a smoker.

The flavoring process is known as pyrolysis, which involves purifying the smoke to remove harmful components such as ash and tar. The end result is a liquid smoke that can be added to food.

Walkers Smoky Bacon Crisps (Image: Tesco/Walkers)

Smoky Bacon crisps and other smoky flavored foods will be phased out in Europe over the next few years. (Image: Walkers/Tesco)

EFSA research has linked smoke flavors to genotoxicity, which it said is “the ability of a chemical to damage the genetic material of cells”. This is a concern because changes or mutations in the genetic information inside a cell can “increase the risk of developing conditions such as cancer and inherited diseases.”

For this type of toxicity, EFSA said it was not possible to define a “safe level” of consumption, so a blanket ban was considered to be the best way to prevent “worst-case scenarios”.

EU member states quietly agreed to the ban at the end of April, and smoke flavorings will be phased out completely over the next few years across Europe.

But it’s not just chips that will be affected by this, as these flavors are also often added to meats, cheeses, fish and sauces such as barbecue sauce.

Manufacturers of these products will be given a transition period to find an alternative way to flavor the food.

A statement from the European Commission explained: “Member States have approved a Commission proposal not to renew the authorization of eight smoke flavorings for food. After a phase-out period, these flavors will no longer be permitted for use in the EU.

“The relevant decisions are based on scientific assessments by the European Food Safety Authority, which concluded that for all eight smoke flavors assessed, genotoxicity concerns are either confirmed or cannot be ruled out. EFSA’s opinion is based on an updated methodology, which evaluates new data submitted by applicants. It refers to the specific flavorings that can be added to food, and not to the food itself.

“Following extensive discussions with Member States and stakeholders, the regulation sets out various phasing-out periods to give manufacturers and operators time to adapt to the new rules. When used to replace traditional smoking (eg ham, fish, cheeses), the phase-out period is five years. For uses where smoke flavoring is added for added flavor (eg soups, chips, sauces), the phase-out period will be two years. The regulation will be formally adopted by the Commission in the coming weeks, to enter into force later this spring.”

Smoked bacon crisps and other smoky-flavored products are still available in the UK due to Brexit, but many Britons were left confused by the news, with some branding it “crazy” on social media.

However, Ireland will be affected by the ban, with claims that the agricultural sector could suffer as a result.

According to The Express, The Kerry Group warned that the decision could cause “major economic damage” as up to 40% of ham and bacon sold in Ireland is based on the flavoring method.

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