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The Fake Vinegar In British Fish and Chip Shops


This is non-brewed condiment. It’s water, ethanoic acid, plus a few colourings
and flavourings. And in almost the all the chip shops
up and down Britain, this is the “vinegar” you’ll get on the counter. And in the modern world, it has some advantages. It can be made from a concentrate, which is fine provided the owner of the chip shop actually remembers to dilute it. That went wrong a couple of times. It’s also halal, because there isn’t
the tiny amount of alcohol in it that brewing regular vinegar causes. And some brands of it are actually gluten-free, which regular malt vinegar
most definitely isn’t. I’ve seen this sold at a premium
as “gluten-free vinegar”. But none of those are the reason that it’s
caught on. There are claims that it started in
the temperance movement, the people who were against alcohol in the
late 19th and early 20th centuries, but I can’t find a reliable source for that — ha, “sauce” — I can’t find a reliable authority for that. The reason is,
chucking some chemicals together is significantly cheaper than
actually brewing vinegar. This stuff has been around for a long time, there’s a reference to it in a 100-year-old
report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Foods. Now legally, it can’t be described as vinegar. Trading Standards, the local government agencies
that enforce food laws, are really clear on that. It cannot be put in the traditional little
bottles that people associate with vinegar. Except: every chip shop, up and down the country,
doesn’t care. And Trading Standards… they could go into every chip shop in the
country and get an easy prosecution — but they don’t. They’ve got better things to do, like tracking down food that will actually
injure or harm you, and it’s not like they’d see any of the money
from fines anyway, that’s not how it works. And most people don’t know this isn’t vinegar. And those of us who do know…
actually don’t care. It’s not like margarine and butter, where the chemical make-up and health effects
are actually different, it’s just a slightly different taste and a
slightly different make up. But no one cares. No one minds.
Up and down the country, everyone agrees: it’s fine.
This is vinegar. So here’s my question: does it matter? [Translating these subtitles? Add your name here!]

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