They’re enjoyed around the world thanks to their 500-year-old recipe, but now a health boss has sparked a controversial debate after claiming Cornish pasties should be made from a lower-fat casing like filo pastry or even pasta, instead of the classic shortcrust.
In a move to tackle obesity in hospitals, Jill Venables, head of facilities at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK, has called for healthier options for patients and suggested changing classic recipes such as high-calorie Cornish pasties and fish and chips.
According to The Telegraph, it’s caused outrage from many with local producers criticising the “nannying NHS” and warning the new recipe will need a new name, as the Cornish pasty is actually a legally protected food.
Claiming that some patients can even make their way through three pasties a day in the UK, Venables reportedly insisted that while the world will continue to love pasties for years to come, there’s nothing wrong with trying to find a healthier alternative for those who want it.
Speaking at Public Health England’s annual conference, Venables reportedly said: “Cornish people will probably throw me out of Cornwall but I’m working on a few recipes, using a few alternative things to shortcrust pastry, such as filo or pasta. Our aim is to encourage customers to choose healthier options.”
The pasties were traditionally made as a quick snack for Cornish tin miners. They’re classically a shortcrust pastry casing filled with beef, potato and swede, although many eateries now offer different fillings as a twist on the original recipe.
Read more: Recipe – Traditional Cornish pasties
A large pasty contains around 775 calories and 45g of fat, prompting Venables to suggest filo pastry, which still has a high fat content, but is healthier than the thicker and denser shortcrust pastry.
It’s caused uproar online already, and one woman wrote on Twitter: “Cornish pasties were traditionally made with rough-puff pastry! Filo pastry is not strong enough to hold the meat & potato filling!” While another simply added: “What?”
Meanwhile, The Telegraph reports the same trust is already moving to replace its traditional fish and chips with a baked cod and chips option.
Reacting to the news, the Cornish Pasty Association told the Mail Online that traditional Cornish pasties are a simple but nutritious meal, adding: “We see no reason why Cornish pasties can’t still be enjoyed by anyone as part of a healthy, balanced diet, particularly as pasty-makers have responded to varying appetites by introducing a wide range of sizes and are always looking at ways of improving products to meet healthy eating guidelines.”
Royal Cornwall Hospitals added to the news outlet: “It is important for us to offer patients, staff and visitors well-balanced, tasty and nutritious food. In response to requests we’ve had, we are introducing lower fat, lower salt and lower calorie alternatives alongside some of our traditional dishes.”