Commission Midday Express, 24 February 2005
A committee of national food safety experts chaired by the European Commission is discussing today the contamination of certain food products by the Sudan 1 industrial dye. The Working Group of experts on Contaminants will hear a report by the UK authorities of the situation since the Food Standards Agency notified on Friday 18 February a contamination of food products by Sudan 1 to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). A first update was provided by the UK at a meeting of the RASFF committee on 22 February.
Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said : "Since June 2003, the European Union only allows imports of chilli products which have been tested and are certified to be free from contamination by the Sudan 1 dye. In addition, Member States are obliged to carry out surveillance of the products on the market. This system has proved its worth as since its introduction, several hundred contaminated products have been found on the market or at our borders, and have been recalled and destroyed. The Rapid Alert System has ensured that all Member States are informed in real time of these findings and can extend the investigations on their territory if necessary. From the Rapid Alert System, it appears that the great majority of contaminations concern products on the EU market. I am concerned that old stocks of chilli from before June 2003 appear still to be used by food processors. Therefore I regret that more than 18 months after the first Commission Decision establishing the control regime, certain industrial operators have not faced up to their responsibilities and cleaned up their stocks of raw material, although we have reminded them of their obligations. If they do not do so, it is up to Member States to take the necessary measures to force them to comply."
Sudan red 1 is a chemical dye and is not permitted in food. It has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is not found naturally in food. For more background information on Sudan 1, and summary records of the meetings of Tuesday 22 and Thursday 24 February (to be published later today),