FOOD WITH MALAYSIAKINI: Traditional food not unhealthy

Posted for future reference.

Traditional Food Should Not Be Deemed Unhealthy
- EU Health Rep
By Nur Adika Bujang
Feb 22 2009
Kota Kinabalu

What if nasi lemak will not have that coconut milky taste and its sambal not as spicy?

Due to rising health concerns, some people have changed the way they prepare the nasi lemak -- Malaysia's favourite breakfast meal and a national heritage -- including opting for "healthier" ingredients.

But village folks and many others will still prefer to have the rice mixed with coconut milk instead of evaporated milk and to add a bit of sugar to bring out the sweet taste of the sambal instead of omitting it altogether because that has been the way nasi lemak is traditionally prepared.

European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumers, Jerome Lepeintre, believed that traditional food is not necessarily unsafe to eat even though some of the ingredients used in the preparation are considered unhealthy.

"We really believe that the Codex Alimentarius Commission or Codex should take into account traditional food and protect the food that has become typical in our lives.

"If you have too much standardised food, you will lose historical and cultural inheritance," he told Bernama on the sidelines of a dialogue on the EU-Asean Cooperation on Codex Matters here.

Codex, established by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation, is the body responsible for developing food safety standards.

Lepeintre said many traditional foods lost their authenticity because of the change in the way they were prepared either to make them healthier or that some of the ingredients, such as agricultural products, no longer had the authentic taste because of the effects of climate change or chemicals used to grow them.

"In Europe, we are very attached to what we call geographical indications. For example, in France we have specific cheese made from non-pasteurised milk which is certainly an unhealthy ingredient.

"But we want to keep this food as it is because there is a long traditional story which has kept the people together," he explained.

Lepeintre said the EU was trying to push the Codex to look into protecting traditional foods which had become the staple diet of many people around the world.

This could include hygienic food preparation, safe and healthy ways of managing crops as well as providing guidelines on daily intakes of traditional food, he added.

Meanwhile, Lepeintre hoped Asean would become a full member of the Codex.

A full membership, he said, would improve coherence between Asean and other countries as well as giving the 10-member grouping the power to defend their interests.

It would also help the region to promote important products in the international food trade, he added.
Traditional Food Should Not Be Deemed Unhealthy - EU Health Rep

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