copenhagen: where not to eat!

Posted on March 29, 2006


fox kitchen.jpg

photo via svane

by sabine behrmann

On the doors or windows to supermarkets, food stores and restaurants all over Denmark you can find a yellowish piece of paper with smileys in a prominent place.

These happy, neutral, or dissatisfied faces are supposed to show any prospective customer what the Danish Food Administration thought about the standard of hygiene when last they visited the premises.

If you understand Danish you can even read what the health officer thought less than satisfactory and take it from there. We all know that spot checks do not always give us a reliable picture of reality. A messy backyard isn’t necessarily a hazard to one’s health in the same way as a filthy kitchen – and it is always important to check up on the date for the last visit. What good does it do me that the place was spotless eighteen months ago?

Nevertheless we are many who have used the smileys as a rough guideline for our choices about where to buy and where to eat. Until now. There is always a snake in paradise – and this time it was the Danish public service channel DR1 with a report about a Danish company that sold meat for human consumption to restaurants long after its best before date. This was due to the lack of control exercised by the food administration we were told.

Since last Sunday the Danish public has witnessed what can only be called a disaster in food control. Depending on which area you go to between 25 and 35 % of the forms have been filled out incorrectly, there has been far between spot checks – even when the health officer had found reason to award a place a dissatisfied smiley.

And of course nobody is to blame. Not the minister who has been responsible in cutting the funding for the Danish Food Administration, not his civil servants who just do their work, following their boss’s guidelines – and definitely not the parliament, where a majority of members has voted in favour of the cuts.

Next you are in Denmark skip a meal or two – it’s healthier than the strain of figuring out where not to eat.


Check out the AOK Copenhagen restaurant guide

Readers weigh in on restaurants in Yahoo Travel and Time Out advises on sticker shock