Rough Trade in Foreign Sausage


The European Union, friend of free trade:

Swiss pork-and-beef cervelat sausages have traditionally used Brazilian cow-intestine skins, but the European Union has banned imports of the skins, fearing they may contain traces of mad cow disease, or BSE.

Picnickers flock to parks at weekends to barbecue the large, bland sausages which look like giant hot dogs. But skin stocks will run out by the end of the year, forcing butchers to use alternatives which purists say split easily and lack flavour….

The [economics] minister said there would be enough sausages for spectators at the European soccer championship the Swiss and Austrians are hosting later this year, and promised to push for a review of the EU ban.

If that fails, Swiss fans may just have to put up with inferior skins, even if they do not curl the sausage when cooked, she said. "I believe Swiss consumers will have the courage to accept a slightly straighter cervelat."

Oh, well, at least there's unfettered trade in sausages within Europe. Hold on— what's that?

The generally good relations between Czechs and Slovaks cooled dramatically last year when Slovakia applied to the EU for trademark protection for its 'spekácky' sausage. This speciality has also been produced from time immemorial by Czech manufacturers. A trademark for the Slovak sausage would mean that the Czechs would have to produce their sausage according to the Slovak recipe. The prospect triggered outraged protest in the Czech Republic. The Czech daily reports that the agricultural ministers of the two states have now reached an agreement at a trade fair in Brno. "Czechs and Slovaks are now working together again on the 'spekácky' project. Both countries will jointly apply to the EU for the registration of this regional speciality. … If the EU grants protection, there will be a 'sausage declaration' that stipulates the recipes to be used, but allows each country to use its own."

They've always provoked passion, those sausages:

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  1. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Europeans take food really fucking seriously.

  2. Sausage Fests are for gay men… not that there’s anything wrong with that!!

  3. Heh… I’m from Slovakia, and I love spekacky (pronounced “shpe.kah.chky”). They are like marshmallows in the US; the most common thing to hold over fire. They are like very thick (1.5 – 2 inches in diameter), very short (4 inches) hot dogs. You cut a cross in both ends and put it over fire; the crosscut causes the ends slowly to open and bend backwards, like an opening flower. From time to time you pull it out of the fire to drip the fat onto a piece of bread you then eat along with the spekacky.

    As for the “conflict”, I’m still following the political situation in Slovakia pretty closely, and this is the first time I’ve heard something like this. I’ll investigate further.

  4. Real bad idea to get between a central European and his sausage.

  5. Seriously? Douglas Adams would have a hard time coming up with bureaucracy this silly.

  6. the Europeans take food really fucking seriously

    Duly noted.

  7. The regulations are not “taking food seriously”, they are stupid. Europeans take their foods very seriously as they are usually tied to cultural identity. Ask a Catalan about cal?ots with romesco, for instance.

  8. Given that Switzerland isn’t part of the EU, why is the EU deciding its trade policies?

  9. Skwisgaar: This is complete total?you know?sausage festival.
    Toki: I loves sausage festival! Like in Vienna?
    Skwisgaar: No Toki, that was a sausage festival.
    Toki: That was good.
    Skwisgaar: No this means there are no good looking ladies to put you know whats into side of them.
    Toki: The sausage?
    Skwisgaar: Yeah.

  10. If the EU’s crazy regulating applied only to food, that would be bearable. But these bureaucrats are applying them to all areas of life in the member countries. Since each country elects a very few members of european parliament, there is no way in hell a minority in any country can repeal detrimental laws. I predict legislation piling on legislation as the years thunder by.

  11. Stephen,

    I came in to ask the same thing. I know they finally caved and joined the UN, but Switzerland still is separate from the EU, right?

  12. “I believe Swiss consumers will have the courage to accept a slightly straighter cervelat.”

    I think she’s got that a bit wrong–it’s actually serenity the Swiss consumers need:

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the sausages I cannot curl;
    courage to curl the sausuages I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

  13. From wikipedia:

    Four Western European countries that have chosen not to join the EU have partly committed to the EU’s economy and regulations: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are a part of the single market through the European Economic Area, and Switzerland has similar ties through bilateral treaties

    Im guessing Switzerland has agreed to follow EU sausage regulations thru some treaty.

  14. Robc – I suspect there is probably some lazy reporting going on here. And some lazy reading on my part – the answer is probably contained in here but life is too short!

    I could understand a situation that said that Switzerland could not sell its special sausages to other EU countries but it surprises me to learn that the EU can decide what a non-EU country can or can’t do. It would be a bit like the US extending the current ban on importing haggis to say that I wasn’t allowed to make it in Scotland.

  15. Switzerland and the EU have harmonized their food-import regulations.

  16. Thanks Jesse.

    Pro-EU advocates (within Europe) make the point that to not be in as tight as possible with the EU is to be denied any influence on its decisions. Mostly this comes across as a unverifiable scare stories to people of a more eurosceptic bent but I think this instance might actually be an instance of that phenomena at work.

  17. Jesse,

    Is sausage enough of an issue to cause the Swiss to unharmonize?

  18. I am no speaking authoritatively on this, but without the same regulations regarding food importation, Switzerland would probably lose some access in regards to exporting to EU markets. So, they do it for the money.

  19. Since no one else has said it, kudos for the headline.

  20. Is sausage enough of an issue to cause the Swiss to unharmonize?

    Can’t speak for the Swiss, but if anybody tries to take my natural casing sausages away from me, I’ll be getting pretty unharmonious on their ass. The only acceptable reason for having a synthetic casing on one’s sausage is contraception.

  21. Actually, traditionally the skins were from Swiss cows. The move to Brazilian cows was to take advantage of cheap labor. So if they want their sausages (and who doesn’t?) they can alway return to using Swiss cows and paying more for it.

  22. You’ll need your tin foil to keep your prozac in

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