VILNIUS - Sausages containing the additive E250 that were in April flagged by the State Veterinary and Food Service (SVFS) as harmful when cooked on a fire, will remain on shelves at least until next year, experts say.
A collective bureaucratic im-pass has brought the discussion on the sausages to a standstill, with each of the three responsible bodies saying they are waiting for the other to act.
"The result is without answers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health 's we sent our letters, but no answers," Zenonas Stanevicius, Deputy Director of SVSF, told The Baltic Times.
Stanevicius said numerous times during the past month that the issue would be solved "within the week," but the decision was perpetually postponed.
The SVFS wanted meat producers to write on the label whether the sausages would be safe to cook over a fire. Sausages containing the E250 coloring agent and preservative become dangerous when cooked over 300 degrees, over an open fire or when smoke touches the meat.
By law, the preservative can be in meat products in small quantities, but mustn't be cooked at temperatures higher than 100 degrees. Some products with E250 are called "grill," "picnic" or "weekend" sausages, suggesting that they should be cooked on an open fire.
"They explained that these nitrites are allowed in the sausages. We asked that if it is allowed, what kind of info should be on the label 's they said 'it's enough' that it is written on the back. We want them to say that meat producers write that it can't be used on the fire," Stanevicius said.
Almantas Kranauskas, head of the Public Health Promotion Division at the Ministry of Health, said the consumers were to blame for "spoiling" the sausages.
"As you know 's sausages are unhealthy as it is with cholesterol, fat, additives, nitrites. A small part of the population consumes sausages, but some people try to spoil the sausage by roasting on the fire. Smoking the sausage puts the carcinogens into the product and if you roast it, it becomes worse 's it is not healthy," he said.
When asked if the packaging should have a warning telling consumers that the sausage could become poisonous and carcinogenic when put on an open fire, he said that Lithuania could make no decisions on the matter.
"This is not a problem because Lithuania is part of the EU and the common food labor link and there is no chance to put special labels on it. Labor link rules are common for all countries and we can't make any special national claims 's they are set by European regulations."
Since the information became public, some companies have already begun informing customers which products are suitable for barbecuing by labeling the products with pictures of a grill. Others however, do not warn against grilling.
Earlier, the meat company Samsonas admitted to TBT that they knew about the potentially damaging side effects of their products and promoted their special grill sausage, which doesn't have E250.
Kranauskas said that the company's information should be disregarded.
"This information is not scientifically based 's this just came from the company and not from the government 's if the company wants, they can put some information, but there is no provision [in the law]."
The Ministry of Agriculture, the third body responsible for dealing with the issue, said it was not their responsibility when TBT approached them.
"The rules for the sausages concerning food additives 's this isn't national. It is approved by the Ministry of Health and it comes from the EU directives. In our national requirements, we cannot change EU provisions," Agriculture Ministry representative Angela Lubickiene said.
Stanevicius said the SVFS could approach non-governmental consumer protection groups if the situation remains unchanged.