A spokesperson for the EU Food Safety Commission has confirmed that 99 ice creams in their current form will be banned from sale throughout the European Union from April 2017.
Jerome Robsonne from the EUFSC in Brussels said that the action was being taken to prevent an accident where the stick of flaked chocolate could ‘block the airway’ of a consumer due to the way that it sticks out from the rest of the ice cream.
Mr Robsonne added: ‘We conducted a number of tests after a British resident raised concerns about how a child could try and fit the whole Flake in their mouth while trying to consume the surrounding ice cream, and worryingly we found that the industry standard chocolate stick was long enough to activate the gag reflex in 100% of the adults that we tested.’
‘For the United Kingdom in particular, we took regional data into consideration as for example there are large areas of Essex where the localised gag reflex tolerance is significantly higher than the rest of Europe, but even with this element the factor of risk was still unacceptably high.’
‘Therefore, we are now writing to all registered ice cream vendors to inform them that inserting the current Flake in a soft-serve ice cream will potentially incur a £5000 fine per offence from 1st April – we will be carrying out spot testing shortly after this date.’
‘Vendors will still be able to sell the chocolate Flake sticks, but they will need to hand them over independently of the cornet and ice cream.’
We asked Mr Robsonne if the problem could be resolved by offering a shorter Flake that could still be inserted into the ice cream.
He said: ‘This was a possibility, and we asked 500 retailers of they would consider taking 30mm away from the current standard 99mm.’
‘Unfortunately, a number of them felt that the marketing wouldn’t be family friendly in nature.’