Earl Grey Tea Victim of EU Regulation

Earl Grey tea may be no more. Trixy passes on this unsourced news:

For almost 200 years, it has been the preferred drink of British polite society. But now the distinct taste of Earl Grey tea is under threat from meddling Brussels bureaucrats. Producers of the citrus fruit bergamot, which gives the blend its unique flavour, say they cannot afford to obey health and safety rules which will become law this year.

Under the regulations, bergamot oil, which is mainly produced for perfume, is classified as potentially dangerous and must be tested and resisted with the European Chemicals Agency. But owners of the small family-run farms in southern Italy, where the fruit is almost exclusively produced, say they will be ruined by the extra £35,000 cost, so will grow something else instead.

A BBC snippet adds only that “They may need to use a synthetic subsitiute.”

Netsmith wonders, “Is there no part of British life that is sacrosanct, protected from the EU?” Apparently, not.

Americans likely best know Earl Grey because of the fictional Jean-Luc Picard’s affinity for “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” Then again, the Briton with the oddly French name Frenchman who oddly had a British accent was drinking a synthetic version created by the ship’s replicator.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    Not too clear why the price wouldn’t simply go up, perhaps actually increasing demand …

  2. Tlaloc says:

    Then again, the Briton with the oddly French name was drinking a synthetic version created by the ship’s replicator.

    Patrick Stewart is british. His character (picard) was supposed to be french. So it sort of makes sense the character would have a french last name.

    But of course kirk, from Iowa, would kick picard’s french butt.

    Heh. That statement alone would be worth several hundred flames on a really geeky blog. Let’s see if OTB measures up.

  3. I’ve been drinking Earl Gey for many years. It helps me remember to close tags 🙂

  4. Seamus says:

    Patrick Stewart is british. His character (picard) was supposed to be french. So it sort of makes sense the character would have a french last name.

    William Shatner is Canadian. His character (Kirk) was supposed to be from Iowa. So it sort of makes sense the character would pick a fight with a French guy.

    How’s that for a geek flame?

  5. James Joyner says:

    I’ve been drinking Earl Gey for many years. It helps me remember to close tags 🙂

    Heh. I just forgot the /, in effect opening it twice.

    I’m not an Earl Grey fan, even though I enjoy tea. It’s quite likely the bergamot oil.

    Ironically, my wife–who hates tea–loves bergamot oil, although in the form of bath scrubs.

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    But of course kirk, from Iowa, would kick picard’s french butt.

    Maybe. But Ben Sisko, from Louisiana, would trounce both of them together without breaking a sweat.

  7. John Burgess says:

    I like bergamot, but not in tea. I prefer it in the form of marmalade, which isn’t actually that easy to find.

  8. Joe says:

    This is another case of the Daily Express looking for any way to twist something. Thus, Italian farmers deciding to stop producing bergamot becomes ‘EU threatens Earl Grey tea’.

    The facts are:

    Many essential oils can be dangerous (especially carcinogenic or skin and respiratory sensitisers), therefore they cannot be excluded from registration and testing requirements of REACH.

    The fact that they are natural products does not make them harmless. There are other natural but very harmful substances and we should find out about such dangerous properties – this is what REACH does.

    The impacts for small farmers are exaggerated because:

    – Manufacturers of substances can have to register a substance under REACH jointly (one substance – one registration principle, for which the UK government fought hard during its EU Presidency)

    – If the substance is produced below 1 tonne per year per producer, it is exempted from registration unless it is already classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction)

    – If a substance is produced between 1 and 10t per year per producer, no new testing is necessary for registration under REACH, just the existing information has to be submitted, which should be very cheap.

    – If a product is used in cosmetics, it also falls under the sector-specific cosmetics legislation and the health risks of these substances must already have been assessed under the cosmetics legislation. The only thing REACH requires manufacturers to do then is to check the additional risks for worker safety and environment, which again should be very cheap in low volumes.

    Bergamot oil is considered by the “European Flavour and Fragrance Association” as

    Xn – harmful
    N – dangerous for the environment
    R 10 – flammable
    R 38 – irritating to skin
    43 – may cause sensitization to the skin
    50/53 – very toxic for the aquatic environment, may cause long-term harm to the aquatic environment
    65 – dangerous, may cause lung damage if swallowed

  9. Water can be:

    Xn – harmful: it just killed a woman who drank too much of it as part of a radio promotion.
    N – dangerous to the environment: rising sea levels due to global warmering.
    R 10 – flammable: if broken into its contituent elements of hydrogen and oxygen.
    R 38 – irritating to skin: don’t you hate it after your skin swells up after being immersed in water for a while?
    43 – may cause sensitization to the skin: especially if you desperately need a bath.
    50/53 – very toxic for the aquatic environment, may cause long-term harm to the aquatic environment: see global warmering above, causing the death of coral reefs.
    65 – dangerous, may cause lung damage if swallowed: or death even, it’s called drowning.

    In fact, water is used for torture by the Bush administration, something I’m sure Bergamot oil has not been used for.

    Now, get off Earl Grey.

  10. trixy says:

    Apologies. It was from the Daily Express and written by Nick Fagge.

    There was no link because it wasn’t on the Express website, hence I had to type out the article myself…

    Sorry