Ken Scicluna / Getty Images 

The regulations would have forced cafés to change how they fry food.

Elisabeth Sherman
July 20, 2017

Strict food preparation standards in the EU nearly ruined a favorite snack in Belgium: What us Americans call “French fries” more appropriatels known as pommes frites.

Reuters reports that the national government of Belgium said on Wednesday that the EU agreed to compromise on their food safety rules, allowing Belgium’s friteries to continue preparing Belgian fries in the traditional manner.

“The Belgian fry is saved! Europe has listened to Belgium," Belgium’s Agriculture Minister Willy Borsus said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Coincidentally, the news that Belgium would not have to sacrifice this beloved cultural tradition to appease the EU came two days before Belgium’s National Day, their holiday commemorating the 1830 revolution that won Belgium independence from the Netherlands.

People may take their fries seriously in America, but in Belgium, where they're known as either pommes frites, frieten in Flemish, or patat in Dutch. They’re a deeply ingrained aspect of their history, and one of the most popular foods in the country. Traditionally, they’re served with a hearty dollop of mayonnaise in a paper cone, or alongside steamed mussels. 

The Belgian people also insist they originated the snack instead of the French; one historical document supports the hypothesis that potatoes were being deep-fried in Belgium as far back as 1680.

It makes sense, then, that for weeks, Belgians have been waiting with bated breath for the EU to officially excuse their precious fries from regulations that would require cafés and restaurants to actively reduce the amount of carcinogenic acrylamide—a substance naturally produced when roasting, baking, frying foods, but that some advocates in the EU believe can cause cancer. The traditional method of frying the potato pieces twice in Belgium makes them crunchier, but also produces more of the acrylamide.

Thankfully, Belgian frite-makers can continue to fry up those crispy, greasy spears of deliciousness however they see fit.