Czech rum gets European all clear

Photo: Patrik Rozehnal

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have received a five-year exemption from the European Union which allows them to can continue with the production of the popular liquor known as ‘tuzemák’, the Czech News Agency on Tuesday.

Photo: Patrik Rozehnal
Former Czech agriculture minister Marián Jurečka filed for the exemption in December last year after the European Food Safety Authority reported last year that the chemical used to create the typical artificial rum flavour is carcinogenic and as a result is a safety concern.

Mr Jurečka argued that the amount of the rum flavour in the final product is highly diluted and that the amount Czechs usually consume was not dangerous to human health.

Without the exemption, which was issued by the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, the Czech Republic would have to stop using the chemical in production of ‘tuzemák’.

The typical rum flavour is also being used in production of some non-alcoholic drinks, baked goods and sweets. However, the exemption issued by the European Union only applies to the liquor.

The popular Czech liquor, which has been a staple of Czech baking and pub-life for over a hundred years, has already been a subject of a ruling from Brussels officials in the past. Originally called ‘tuzemský rum’ or ‘Domestic Rum’, it had to be renamed in 2004, after the Czech Republic’s accession to the European Union.

Czech Rum is produced from sugar beet spirit, but according to EU regulations, only spirits distilled from sugar-cane can be called rum.

Despite the change in its name, the traditional liquor remains very popular with Czech consumers. Every fourth bottle of alcohol sold in the country is the so-called ‘tuzemák’.