Hansel & Gretel Witch Criticized For High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Bonn, Germany (AP) – German health authorities are investigating allegations that, in contravention of European Union health guidelines, the witch who lures children into her candy-and-cake house in order to cook and eat them uses high-fructose corn syrup to prepare the sweets and confections. High-fructose corn syrup is banned in the EU.
Yaga, the witch, lives in the Black Forest, and has for centuries practiced cannibalism of wandering children, whom she attracts by means of the candies and cakes that compose much of her cottage. Ministry of Health inspectors made a visit to Yaga’s residence yesterday and took samples of the candy roof tiles, candy cane window frames, cookie doorknobs and swabbings of various other foodstuffs used in the construction of the house and its furnishings.
The samples have been transferred to a laboratory in Baden-Baden, and investigators expect results by the middle of next week. A portion of the samples have also been sent to the central EU Health Directorate investigative division in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where parallel analysis will take place, according to Directorate spokesman Jüve Gottebekidding.
“Technically this matter is still under the jurisdiction of the German internal authorities, but as a courtesy they customarily collect enough material in their investigations to share with us so we can double-check their findings,” said Gottebekidding. “Since in this case it’s a small-scale operation, not a major pan-European enterprise, the Directorate sees no need to get directly involved.” Punitive measures against the witch, if they prove warranted, will be a matter for the German authorities to determine.
Yaga herself was unavailable for comment, but her attorney, Jan Derwindobreks, says his client denies any wrongdoing. “Yaga has been using the same locally available ingredients since she began luring children to their deaths hundreds of years ago,” he insisted. Derwindobreks says he and his client are confident the investigation will exonerate Yaga, and she will be able to return to her practice of attracting helpless children into her lair, fattening them up, and cooking them.
While the investigation is in progress, Yaga is barred from further production of sweets. As the candies are an integral part of the witch’s roof and other building elements, Derwindobreks laments that his client must resort to standard building materials in order to replace the pieces that children eat before they are lured inside, and she lacks the experience to properly install each item. As a result, the structural integrity of the house is in peril.
Health Ministry spokesman Willy Kwitchergreipen said the injunction was temporary, pending the outcome of the investigation, and that it is standard practice. “We make no exceptions when it comes to our regular procedure – as soon as Ms. Yaga is cleared of malfeasance in this regard we will rescind the injunction and she may return to her customary production of sweets – provided they contain no high-fructose corn syrup.”
The ingredient, a modified form of glucose syrup derived from corn, has been associated with diabetes and other ills, and was banned by EU authorities two years ago. Most European confection manufacturers have readily complied, though the added expense and logistical hurdles inherent in switching to other forms of sugar have proved troublesome. According to Kwitchergreipen, it remains unclear where Yaga may have obtained the syrup, as imports of it have been barred since the ban went into effect and it has only been available from major industrial suppliers. None of those suppliers has had any of the syrup in stock since then, he said.
“It remains possible that, if in fact we find evidence that Ms. Yaga used high-fructose corn syrup, she synthesized it herself.” Investigators did document the presence in the house of several types of equipment that could be used in the production of high-fructose corn syrup, such as cauldrons, stirring implements, and brooms, the bottoms of which are often made of broom corn.
If found in violation of the regulations, Yaga faces a fine of up to 50,000 Euros and will be prohibited from manufacturing confections. Derwindobreks is confident that she will be found to have complied all along, but worries that if the investigation concludes she used the banned substance, she will be left with no other means to sustain herself.
“She could starve,” he warned.