Our home kitchens are not necessarily the cleanest cooking environments out there, as much as we’d like to think so. Pets might wander through, countertops aren’t necessarily sterilized, food storage might not be ideal and how often do you clean under the refrigerator? Things like this are reasons that many states won’t allow you to sell food prepared in a home kitchen; it’s an unregulated environment, and unlike restaurant kitchens, there are no inspections to help sort out the good from the bad. But this difference between home kitchens and restaurant kitchens is about to have a big impact on an important type of culinary contest: baking competitions.
In Europe, new regulations put in place by the EU might mean the end of local and regional baking competitions, some of which have been traditions for generations. The new rules say that all cakes (and other baked goods) must be destroyed immediately following a competition, rather than being shared with and tasted by onlookers. “[They state] that food produced for display purposes, containing fresh ingredients such as eggs, butter and cream, should not be eaten to avoid possible food poisoning outbreaks.” Recommendations have been made that suggest only bite-sized cakes be permissible at competitions in the future, as they are a suitable portion for judging and it will cut back on the amount that must be wasted after the contest.
I haven’t seen statistics that give details on the number of “poisoning outbreaks” related to baking competitions, but I bet that more people get sick after going on a Tilt-O-Whirl than after eating a sample of a pie at a county fair. It will be interesting to see if these new rules end up sticking in Europe, and if they do, hopefully the impact on baking traditions will not be a big one. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see how the impact won’t be big, considering that there aren’t that many venues that allow home bakers to show off their talents. I’m just hoping they don’t spread overseas to the US because the baking contests are always my first stop at a fair or festival and I’d hate to see them go.