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Doner kebab gets Weimar name change

October 27, 2019

The eastern German city of Weimar has ruled that doner kebabs made with additive-laced meat must now be described as Drehspiess (rotisserie). The guideline dates back more than three decades but most cities ignored it.

A row of Doner kebab rotisseries
Image: picture-alliance/imageBROKER/E. Bömsch

Kebab restaurants in the eastern German city of Weimar have been ordered to change menus to rename one of their most popular dishes.

Sellers of doner kebabs — the dish containing meat cooked on a vertical spit — must now label them as Drehspiess im Fladenbrot, which is German for rotisserie (meat) in flatbread.

City authorities have decided to enforce a 31-year-old federal guideline on what exactly constitutes a doner kebab, known as "döner" in Germany.

In 1988, a food advisory panel to the country's Food and Agriculture Ministry recommended under its "Guidelines for meat and meat products" that doner meat must comply with specific rules.

Read more: Bavarian court rules manufacturer cannot sell salmonella-laden shish kebab

Only natural flavor enhancers

It must be made of trimmed lamb or beef, and the proportion of minced meat must not exceed 60%. Only salt, egg, spices, oil, onions, milk, and yogurt can be added.

Factory-produced doner kebab meat mostly contains industrial flavor enhancers and therefore does not meet the requirement.

Weimar's food inspection office says the name change will help protect consumers from being misled.

However, restaurant owners in the city are angry at the change and say customers still come in asking for a doner kebab. They say that doner is Turkish for "rotary" and kebab means "grilled meat."

Although the recommendation was made by a national body, only one or two other German cities have enforced it.

Read more: Lukas Podolski opens doner kebab restaurant in home city of Cologne

Vegan steak from a 3D printer

Spotlight on additives

Producers of huge blocks of frozen meat used to make doner kebabs regularly face criticism over the use of poor quality ingredients and phosphates additives.

Manufacturers insist they need the additives to keep the meat juicy, tender and tasty, but health experts argue that eating phosphates increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Two years ago, European Parliament MPs narrowly rejected plans to ban phosphates used in the industrial meats used to make the kebab.

But in June, the European Food Safety Authority issued new safe limits for phosphates consumption and warned that the diets of children and adolescents, in particular, are laden with the additive.

As well as processed meat and fish products, phosphates are found in sodas, some cheese products, and sauces and pudding/cake mixtures.

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