Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA News Item, 31 July 2003

CONTAMINANTS - Illegal chemical dye found in chilli products in the UK

The Food Standards Agency today warned that some food products sold in the UK have been found to contain chilli powder illegally contaminated with the dye Sudan I, a chemical that could cause cancer. The Agency and local authorities are working to ensure that these products are removed from sale.

David Statham, the Agency's Director of Food Standards and Enforcement, said: 'There should not be any Sudan I in food. We have already identified some relishes, chutneys and seasonings that people should avoid and our investigations are on-going.

'There is no immediate threat of illness and those most at risk would be people eating contaminated products regularly over a long time. Anyone who has one of these products at home should throw it away, and shops should not be selling them.
'Not all chilli powder, nor all products with chilli in them, are affected. Fresh chilli is not affected, nor are new supplies of chilli powder, because checks at ports are now ensuring that it tests negative for Sudan I before it is allowed into the country.'

The Agency is asking companies to withdraw and recall contaminated products as soon as they are identified. Both retail and catering products have been identified.
Food Hazard Warnings have today been sent to all local authorities with details of all the products implicated so far. Updates will follow if further products emerge from the on-going investigations.

The contaminated chilli powder has been imported from India, where it would appear certain producers have been adulterating their product with the red dye.

The Agency was notified earlier this month by the European Commission (EC) that some products contaminated with Sudan I that had been found in France had been produced in the UK.

The French findings have led to a trail of investigations into a number of UK companies and products using chilli powder from the Indian companies identified by the EC as the source of the adulterated chilli powder. Initial tests on some of these products have produced positive results for Sudan I and the Agency is acting on these results.

Under a new EC Decision, which came into force yesterday, cargoes of dried and crushed or ground chilli coming into any EU Member State must now be accompanied by a certificate showing they have been tested and found to be free of Sudan I.

Any consignment that does not have a certificate will be detained for sampling and analysis. Port officials can also test any other food products.

Anything containing Sudan I will be seized and destroyed. Random sampling is also being undertaken by local authorities.

All products found to contain Sudan I must be seized and destroyed.

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