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Sweden in plea to save stinky fermented herring

Sweden in plea to save stinky fermented herring

Published: 23 Jun 2010 07:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Jun 2010 07:46 GMT+02:00

Sweden's agriculture minister Eskil Erlandsson pleaded with the EU's health and consumer policy commissioner on Tuesday to save one of the country's most loved - and loathed - delicacies: stinky fermented herring.

Sweden and Finland have a special exemption under European Union rules to sell fatty fish from the Baltic sea, which have dioxin levels that are too high to be sold elsewhere.

Surströmming, or fermented Baltic herring, falls under the exemption but it is only valid until the end of 2011, leading Erlandsson to plead the case with visiting EU commissioner John Dalli.

"He informed the commissioner about the importance of surstroemming for our cultural heritage in Sweden and how important it is that we continue to produce it," Erlandsson's spokeswoman Sofia Jöngren told AFP.

Asked whether Dalli had tried the traditional delicacy known for its pungent odour, Erlandsson replied, according to the Swedish TT news agency: "His colleague recommended him not to do it."

Surströmming is a dish best served cold and is popular in some parts of northern Sweden. It is sold in bulging cans due to the continued fermentation and when opened gives off a pungent smell.

The delicacy is regularly a bone of contention among urban neighbours and is thus usual reserved for consumption in the open air and typically as a crisp bread sandwich buried under heaps of sour cream, onion and potatoes in order to disguise the acquired taste.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:25 June 23, 2010 by RobinHood
I understand that surströmming has a strong cultural and traditional aspect, but why would anyone want to eat something that has high levels of dioxin? How high? Is it borderline, or "eat this and you will get cancer"?

The EU should stretch the rules a bit in these matters, but not if the horrible fishy stuff fills cancer hospitals.
09:48 June 23, 2010 by Nemesis
Anything full of dioxins should not be for public consumption.

Normally I support a countries right to maintain its culture, but in this case, if it isdangerous, it should be stopped.
10:11 June 23, 2010 by Zoolander428
If it's dangerous, slap a warning label on it and let people make the decision for themselves.
11:05 June 23, 2010 by concha de tu puta madre
Agree, slap on a label as they do with cigarettes.
13:27 June 23, 2010 by Audrian
There are many habits that are harmful to our health, e.g., eating too much, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, weapons, nuclear power, nuclear bomb, car-exhaust, consumption of sugar, chocolate and sweets. Why are the bureaucrats focusing on the stinky herring? Is because its lobby groups are not strong enough to put a fight!
17:37 June 23, 2010 by zircon
Smart, very smart... Swedish snobs.
18:05 June 23, 2010 by Michael Whitfield
For some Swedes, Surstromming is considered a delicacy. Having tried this several years ago myself, I cannot say I share their enthusiasm. The normal herring is quite tasty, however. Even though Sweden is a neutral country, Surstromming could be developed into a defensive weapon in case of a foreign invasion. I can remember an article In Dagens Nyheter in the late 70's about some mischevious Swede putting a can of Surstomming in a neighbors mailbox. It sounded amusing, but I am sure the stench was overwhelming.
19:31 June 23, 2010 by Zill
I am a U.S. citizen and resident (one parent a native of Sweden and the other a native-born Finn) and have only had the opportunity to sample surströmming once.

It tasted GOOD (though it does have a nasty smell), and given the chance, I would gladly eat it again.

Note that even though I enjoyed surströmming, I will NOT eat lutfisk.

But let's allow individual Swedish families decide if they will or will not eat surströmming (with or without the dioxin). No reason for the EU to involve itself in such decisions. If dioxin is really an issue, then slap a cigaret-style warning label on each one of those bulging cans.
01:00 June 24, 2010 by GLO
An American with strong family ties to Sweden. BUT, I hate most traditional foods, yet I love to try it at Christmas. Leave Sweden alone. Better to get the He%# ot of the EU.
02:30 June 24, 2010 by Beavis
What difference does it make, Sweden blatently ignores most EU laws anyway. Eg why is Systembulls1t still in existance? Why do Swedish companies not conform to EU consumer law? Most of (not all)EU laws are there to protect the consumer..but in Sweden..they would rather screw the consumer
16:52 June 25, 2010 by Zill
Beavis, Systembolaget WILL be gone (or at least go the way of Apoteket and no longer be a monopoly) eventually. Thank the EU when that happens.

And consider this - long after Systemet is gone, we will still have public-owned alcohol monopolies in many (not all, but many) U.S. states.
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