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  Peking Duck flies off UK menu on oven fears  



British athletes and officials should seize the opportunity of staying in the Olympic Village and other visitors from the UK use their stay in China to gorge on the Peking Duck.

And it's very important that they do so, for back home in the UK the dish could be off restaurants' menu owing to a European Union (EU) ban on the ovens traditionally used to make it, the London-based Daily Mail has reported.

Peking roast duck.

UK officials are busy inspecting restaurants and sealing the ovens because they do not carry a CE (Conformit Europenne) mark to meet the standards on carbon-monoxide emission.

The newspaper said the clampdown comes despite officials conceding that no health problems linked to the ovens made in China have been reported.

Qiao Jie, general secretary of the Beijing-based China Cuisine Association, said Monday that the British move was a misunderstanding of the Chinese art of cooking.

"Chinese dishes have been subject to a lot of misunderstandings in terms of quality and nutrition Cooking is not only about science and nutrition, but also art."

China should set up its own standards for traditional cooking equipment to protect the reputation of Chinese dishes across the world, Qiao said.

The Peking Duck has a history of more than 600 years.

It is usually cooked in a 6-foot-high drum-shaped oven, which is much larger than a conventional commercial oven and can roast up to 24 ducks and four suckling pigs at a time.

All the ovens used in UK restaurants have been imported from China because there are no European manufacturers for them.

The ban on Peking Duck has angered many Chinese cooks in the UK because many restaurants in London, including some in the famous Chinatown district, have lost business, the Daily Mail said. And scores of others could suffer the same fate.

The newspaper quoted celebrity chef Ken Hom as saying: "It's absurd. What do the Europeans know about making Peking Duck?"

Victor Hor, front manager of Phoenix Palace in Marylebone, central London, was quoted as saying: "It has tied our hands but there's nothing we can do about it, except make an apology for a mistake we didn't make."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, his predecessor Tony Blair and his wife Cherie are among the high-profile clientele of Phoenix Palace.

Chinese living in the UK said the ban was a kind of "cultural discrimination".

"Peking Duck represents Chinese culture," Ge Nan, a Chinese living in the UK for more than eight years, said over the phone. "What would the Britons think if fish and chips were banned somewhere in the world."

Mu Dongliang, of the World Association of Chinese Cuisine, said: "No matter what happens, I don't think Peking Duck will lose its international market. Traditional Peking Duck is delicious and healthy food."





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