This ban has been implemented in England by the Food (Jelly Confectionery) (Emergency Control) (England) Regulations 2002. Scotland, Wales and N Ireland will be introducing parallel regulations. The Regulations prohibit:
The Food Standards Agency first warned consumers about the sweets in August 2001 after concerns were raised in the US and Canada that they could pose a fatal choking threat to young children.
The Agency began tests assessing the risk and took further action in December 2001 and March 2002 to ensure that they are not sold in the UK. The new EU regulation will ensure that this ban applies across the European Community.
Konjac is typically used as a thickener and stabiliser in dessert gels, aspics, frozen desserts, sauces (including salad dressings and mayonnaise) and batters.
But it does not dissolve easily and when used in fruit gel sweets of the kind imported in the European Union, could stay stuck in the throat. Children tend to suck out and effectively 'inhale' these sweets, which comprise of a soft, slippery type jelly with a hard, fruit flavoured gum at the centre.
After the concerns were first raised last August, the Food Standards Agency issued food hazard warnings to local authorities, advising trading standards officers to check shops were taking the sweets off the shelves.
Port authorities were also alerted, and the Agency also contacted known importers, distributors and retailers to advise them to withdraw the products from sale.