It is the nation`s favourite Chinese dish – adored by millions and a staple feature on the menus of restaurants and takeaways the length and breadth of Britain, according to Mail Online.

But Peking Duck could now be forced into extinction by an EU ban on the ovens traditionally used to prepare it.

Council inspectors have been busily visiting restaurants that use the ovens and sealing them closed with tape because they do not carry a CE (Conformité Européenne) mark certifying that the equipment meets safety standards on carbon-monoxide emissions laid down by Brussels.

Ten restaurants in London – including some in the famous Chinatown district – have so far been affected and scores more in the capital will be hit in coming weeks.

Other councils around Britain are also being urged to take similar action.

The clampdown comes despite an admission by council officials that there have been no reported health problems linked to the ovens, which are made in China and are also used to cook Cantonese Duck and suckling pig.

The ban has infuriated celebrity chef Ken Hom, who said last night: `It`s absurd. What do the Europeans know about making Chinese duck? It`s just as outrageous as people in Hong Kong being told they can`t make fish and chips. I am livid.`

One restaurant where the ovens have been shut down is the £40-a-head Phoenix Palace, in Marylebone, Central London.

Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and his wife Cherie are among its high-profile clientele and staff have also catered for Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Labour`s deputy leader Harriet Harman.

Front-of-house-manager Victor Hor said: `It`s tied our hands behind our back but there`s nothing we can do about it, except make an apology for a mistake we didn`t make.

`I had a customer who came in and said he would have his usual roast pig and I said, `Sorry,

I can`t do that." He said, "What am I supposed to eat?"`

Mr Hor said that his oven was imported from China eight years ago because there were no European manufacturers making them. The restaurant has now ordered a new £4,000 oven which will not be delivered for another month.

The 6ft-tall drum-shaped appliances are much larger than a conventional commercial oven and can roast up to 24 ducks and four suckling pigs at a time.

They are heated via a central burner at the base so the heat can rise up through the racks of hanging meat and reach temperatures of 300C.

The ovens have been shut down by Westminster Council. The crackdown was launched after an official noticed the ovens were not CE marked during a routine inspection of Chinese restaurants in May.

Westminster has now contacted other councils in areas with large Chinese populations to raise the issue.

A council spokesman said: `If the restaurants want to continue cooking ducks in the traditional manner they will need to get new ovens which will comply with EU standards by having CE marking.

`We are absolutely not picking on the Chinese community. This is an issue with any kind of ethnic type of food where they may well be using catering equipment imported from outside the EU.

`We are not aware of a single injury or accident involving these duck ovens but now we are aware of this issue we want to prevent any accidents happening.`

In 2006, Westminster confiscated burners used on tables at Korean restaurants because they did not meet European safety standards.

Peking Duck dates back more than 600 years and was traditionally served at feasts. It is prepared by forcing air between the skin and the meat and then roasting, leaving the skin extra crispy.

It is usually served with pancakes, hoisin sauce, spring onions and cucumber.

Cantonese duck does not have the skin separated from the meat and is less crispy, while suckling pig is roasted whole on a spit.

Mail Online