Denmark bans Marmite

Denmark has banned Marmite on the grounds that the spread's Vitamin B fortification puts it into conflict with Danish food safety regs.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has allegedly made the importation of Marmite illegal, apparently on the grounds that the yeast extract is fortified with vitamin B, and therefore doesn't meet strict safety guidelines. (It's not the first time Marmite has been banned for health reasons - a few years ago some Welsh schools removed it from breakfast menus because of its salt content.) The possibility of a Marmite war with Denmark seems remote - the half of the UK population who find Marmite disgusting are unlikely to be outraged - but if the ban (which also includes Ovaltine and Horlicks) continues, what Danish produce can Britain boycott in retaliation?
This will teach the Danes to ban Marmite!

(Image: marmite, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from hodgers's photostream)



  1. For those playing at home: Vitamin D fortified food during WWII caused vitamin D poisoning after the war. Fortified food can be dangerous.

    1. To anon @2:

      We know a little more about supplemention than we did 70 years ago. Vitamin D has nothing to do with Vitamin B. The tragedy of a drowning death should not deter you from having a drink of water. Supplementation has done more good than harm.

  2. Carlsberg- “probably lager”

    (the cans say “probably the best lager in the world”, but if you turn it right it says “probably lager”, which is more accurate)

  3. Well, perhaps you’re being too hasty publishing this, seems like nobody in Denmark has heard anything about this….

  4. A few years back, I tried to send a friend some Kraft Peanut Butter, it was stopped at customs and deemed an illegal import. Peanut Butter! Now I get that it’s not as healthy as simple ground nuts but it beat Marmite’s butt any day of the week.

    1. Given that the Danish Crown Prince’s wife is Australian, I am sure a Vegemite ban would disrupt things considerably.

  5. The majority of Danish bacon exported to the UK is no great shakes*. It’s ‘cured’ by injecting salt water and polyphosphates all of which mean that it exudes hideous amounts of white goop when fried.

    I detest Marmite, but banning crappy bacon seems like fair retaliation.

    * having said which it is a thousand times better than the stuff Americans call bacon. Seriously guys, you can put a man on the Moon but the secret of bacon eludes you?

    1. What is “proper” bacon like? And where are you dining, by the way?

      OT — why is vitamin B a problem?

      1. What is “proper” bacon like? And where are you dining, by the way?

        American bacon is typically pork belly which is mostly fat and is typically smoked. In the UK as I understand it, bacon is back bacon taken from the loin like Canadian bacon. It is more like ham than bacon.

        There is also middle bacon, taken from the side which is what Australians and Kiwis eat.

  6. I doubt Denmark could ban marmite for salt content – this is a country where everyone eats salt liquorice or salmiak (liquorice with ammonium chloride). Like Marmite, apparently Spunk is an acquired taste (hey its one of the best selling brand names of this stuff).

    1. Like Marmite, apparently Spunk is an acquired taste

      Yes, Danes sure do love Spunk. They just can’t get enough of that salty Spunk. One time I ran around the countryside, showering Spunk all over anyone I found and they scooped it up and ate it while smacking their lips and asking for more Spunk.

      And…I’m spent.

  7. Update: it is claimed that Vegemite is already banned. I presume this means no truth to the rumour that Princess Mary was behind this.

  8. Do they really need to ban it? Personally I love the stuff but it is generally considered to be self prohibiting by virtue of the taste.

  9. I’m amazed that anyone else eats the stuff.

    Perhaps Cory can give some context for this: my girlfriend’s Portuguese, and she lists Marmite along with Branston pickle and HP sauce as something that non-native UK residents gradually come round to. At first, you can barely look at it. Then, you’re tempted to try it. After some months of being persuaded that it’s not intrinsically satanic, you gradually become inured to it.

    Now she practically mainlines it.

    1. My German girlfriend used to laugh at the British obsession with pickle (why do garden centers always have a pickle section?). She now eats more Branston than I do.

      @MaggieHall – have you ever tasted Danish beer? They really haven’t figured out how to make it taste nice.

    2. Your girlfriend is wrong.

      I wont touch neather of those things with a 3m baguette….

    1. They mean marketing in the sense of placing on the market, not just advertising, as the Danish Food Ministry makes clear.

      However, in this case I’ll wager that the specific reason why Marmite is no longer available in Denmark is because the importer was unwilling to pay the 6,100 Krone fee for the necessary permit.

    2. You don’t seem to get it quite either. Apparently Marmite falls under a regulation banning it, but can be approved for sale upon application and appropriate bureaucratic hoop-jumping.

      So Marmite is indeed banned, just not specifically — there is no law specifically naming it, apparently, but if you need to get some officious little desk jockey to sign paperwork in triplicate before you can legally sell the stuff, I think “banned” is a fair description.

  10. I should make haste to Copenhagen and hurl copies of my book – The Mish-Mash Dictionary of Marmite: an anecdotal A-Z of ‘Tar-in-a-Jar’ – at the Danish Government. Though would be a waste of an informative and entertaining book (even if I do say it myself). But to be serious, what the Danes clearly don’t realise is that four of the five vitamin Bs are found naturally in yeast-extract, ie the waste sludge from the brewing industry. Though probably the real problem here is that Denmark, as one of the few great brewing nations, has failed to produce its own version of the Mighty-M!

  11. iCowboy: Yes!!! For the love of good ban danish bacon. Denmark produces a serius amount of quite delicius bacon (compared to the size of the country any way), but still we the danish people are left with the scraps that are left after all the good quality bacon has been exported to the UK. The best danish bacon available in Denmark is actually bacon that has been reimported from the UK. So, yes ban the preciuzz, we want’z itzz all for ourz zelveszzz.

    Also speaking as a danish citizen, wtf is Marmite? I suddenly have a strange craving for it now that it has been banned.

  12. I’m not sure it’s that easy. Ever since the famous “Cassis de Dijon” case (Google it) we have had, by and large, the principle of mutual recognition: a product that is lawfully marketed in one member state should not be forbidden in another member state.

    There are exceptions, but they need to be well argued. I’m not sure they apply here.

  13. just for the record, Marmite can become unbanned – they just have to follow stricter rules because they add vitamins.
    You can spike the punch, we just want to know with what and how much :)

  14. Vegemite’s also been banned in Denmark for a while apparently. So I dunno what Princess Mary puts on her toast. Probably herring or something.

  15. Speaking as a Marmite-loving Dane, it might be time to put some perspective on this.

    Denmark has a restriction on all non-approved food products fortified with vitamins. The ban is not directed at Marmite in particular, is was partly introduced to avoid that candy and sugar-filled cereals were marketed as “healthy” or “good for kids” because of some artificially added vitamins.

    Marmite is considered an aquired taste in the UK. In Denmark the product is completely unknown except for a few UK expats and a handful of Danish anglophiles such as myself. I would be very suprised if more than 1000 cans were sold per year in Denmark. In comparison, Denmark exports 100.000 tons of bacon to the UK yearly (2006).

    It seems that this story (and the response it has generated) has somewhat lost perspective somewhere down the road…

    1. Thank you for your perspective.

      I think the FDA should require US food companies to apply for permission to include health claims on their products.

      If there’s any food or drink component that has consistently shown a survival benefit in numerous studies, it would be ethanol in some form or another. Imagine a bottle of Jack with the banner “Great for your cardiovascular health!” Of course, this product can be abused, just like all the other “healthy” foods.

      How many people eat the recommended 5 servings of fresh veggies and fruit, EVERY DAY?

    2. Marmite … in CANS!?!?!

      bnkoid – sir, or madam, you betray your ignorance and cast doubt on your claim to me a Marmite lover.

      But there is no need to worry about not being able to get it in Denmark; it is a truism that a JAR of Marmite is never empty – there is always a scraping left.

    3. Denmark has a restriction on all non-approved food products fortified with vitamins

      Technically speaking, Marmite could be considered a cultural artifact.

      1. Technically speaking, Marmite could be considered a cultural artifact.

        Or a biological weapon.

  16. Why bother describing vitamins and fortifications? Just say it has the taste of the residue you scrape around the stove with tons of salt on top and be done with it. Good riddance!

    1. @anon: “3M makes baguettes now?”

      That’s the funniest thing I’ve read this week.

  17. Hi I am from Denmark.
    Marmite isn’t banned in DK. You need a permission to import it and sell it because it has been fortified with vitamins. But it is being sold numerous places in DK.

  18. Ehhhh…. and you can get Marmite, if you really want to, in many of the small foreign-run green groseries/Halal butchers here in Denmark….

  19. Sorry lads,
    It seems like there’s been a misunderstanding between Danish authorities and English media (no names mentioned due to super-injunction…)
    This British tribute to World Cuisine – as well as ‘Bovril’ – can still be found in various shops (and, no doubt, hidden and forgotten on back-shelves in many a pantry…;)

  20. Denmark’s major agricultural products are cheese and ham so there is your target.

  21. what Danish produce can Britain boycott in retaliation?

    Seems like a good excuse to ban gravlox, liver pate, and smelly fish in aspic. You could “accidentally” ban lutefisk (which is not Danish) at the same time!

  22. I am from Denmark and I have never heard of Marmite or seen it in any supermarket. Ever.

  23. is there a significant difference between Marmite and Vegemite other than country of origin?

    1. Is there a difference between Marmite and Vegemite?

      Heck, yes.
      The only time I had Vegemite (and I love Marmite) I was not impressed – it was a bit gritty, and did not smell nice.
      It is certainly not as dark and smooth.
      Maybe the different beers brewed in UK and Aus account for it?
      I also hear that Vegemite has more additives.

  24. They could ban Danish, which by the looks of their teeth would be a step in the right direction.

    (I make this joke on the basis of my british cousin, who at 23 bragged about her first set of dentures)

  25. Yes, just the marketing is banned. Interesting, though, that Abigail’s (a shop selling ‘colonial foods’ – Marmite and the like – in Copenhagen) actually got a phone call from the Ministry of Food and Ag. It’s possible that the call was misinterpreted. Nevertheless, Abigail’s doesn’t (or didn’t anyway) do much advertising – seems to be mainly word-of-mouth among ex-pats, so there’s something awry.

    Regarding the vitamin fortification, the only added vitamin is B12, which is roughly as poisonous as water, but deficiency of which will kill you. Go figure.

  26. Anon #24:

    Denmark produces a serius amount of quite delicius bacon (compared to the size of the country any way), but still we the danish people are left with the scraps that are left after all the good quality bacon has been exported to the UK.

    Are you serious? Danish bacon, I’m sorry, is ghastly. Get yourself over here, buy some dry cure from any supermarket chain’s “Better Than The Normal Shit” range (making sure it’s from British, outdoor reared pigs) and grill or fry as you like it. It’s a different world. I wouldn’t buy Danish anyway on animal welfare grounds, even if it were delicious but it just isn’t.

  27. If they’re banning things for salt content, they should start by banning sodium chloride. I hear it’s nearly 100% salt.

    First they came for the sodium chloride. Then they came for the dihydrogen monoxide.

  28. Go Denmark! Keep this evil out of our streets, making the world a safer place for our children. :)

  29. As for the counter-boycott, you can ask us crazy Arabs.

    A few years ago we were subjected to a forced boycott as most supermarkets in the Arab world took it to heart to not sell anything Danish after the whole Muslim cartoon fiasco:

    It might be different in the US, but we have shitloads of Danish products in this part of the world. I especially missed my butter.

    Thankfully, people forget, but you can still see signs of faded “Boycott Denmark” stickers on walls and supermarkets.

    Here’s a list to help you guys out:

    Lego! Puck! Stimorol! Suntop! Arla! Lurpack!

  30. So you can have Marmite in Denmark but you just can’t “market” (i.e., sell?) it there? If it can’t be sold, that’s pretty much a ban isn’t it? I don’t think any newspapers were claiming that Denmark made it illegal to use or consume. So the papers are correct after all??

  31. Is Letiza’s comment spam? I swear there used to be a “report this comment” link, but I can’t see one…

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