EU ban on animal parts upsetting Greek appetites
Eyes, spleens, entrails part of traditional cooking
September 28, 1997
Web posted at: 6:09 p.m. EDT (2209 GMT)
From Reporter Anthee Carassava
ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- Greek cooks and butchers are out of
sorts because of a decision by the European Union to ban the
sale of animal eyes, brains, spleens and assorted other parts
not usually thought of as food.
The EU says the new policy, which is scheduled to go into
effect January 1, will help combat the spread of "mad-cow
disease," bovine spongiform encephalopathy. An outbreak of the brain-wasting disease in Britain
has been traced to feeding sheep parts to cows.
Once in effect, slaughterhouses across the continent will
have to destroy the brains, eyes, spinal cords and spleens of
cattle, sheep and goats older than 12 months of age.
But some of the very ingredients the EU wants to ban are
staples in traditional Greek cooking.
"We were born eating this stuff," huffs one Greek housewife.
"Why should we change our habits? To please the appetites of
these European officials? Never."
Lamb heads and stuffed spleens grace the table of nearly
every Greek taverna. Soups made from the innards of sheep are
common meals and have a place at Greek Easter feasts. And
kokoretsi -- diced offal wrapped in sheep intestines -- is a
national hors d'oeuvre.
Even the eyes of lambs are cherished as a favorite
finger-licking treat, often plucked from the baked head by
Butchers and government officials claim the ban is unfair
because no Greek animal products have ever been linked to mad-cow
disease. The government plans to seek an exemption from
Should that fail, many Greeks say they'll just keep on eating
as they have -- they'll just dine on the sly.