Food Law News - UK - 2004

FSA News, 23 December 2004

CONTAMINANTS - Erucic acid update

The Food Standards Agency has issued a follow-up Food Alert for information after it was notified of more products with levels of erucic acid that breach the regulations.

Erucic acid

In September 2004 the Agency advised people not to eat particular pickles, sauces and preserved vegetables imported from Bangladesh , China , Pakistan and India following a survey that showed that some products contained illegally high levels of erucic acid.

Erucic acid is a substance naturally found in some oils derived from plants, primarily in some varieties of mustard seed oil and rapeseed oil.

Although there have been no confirmed cases of erucic acid toxicity in humans, high levels of erucic acid have been linked to the formation of fatty deposits in heart muscle in animals.

The Agency stressed in its September advice that if you have occasionally eaten any of these products it is highly unlikely that you will have added to your risk of developing heart disease.

In addition, some limited animal studies have suggested that any fatty deposits that might have formed around the heart following consumption of high levels of erucic acid will gradually disappear if you reduce your consumption of erucic acid.

The law

A breach of the 1977 Erucic Acid in Food Regulations applies when:

For details of the products in the latest Food Alert are subject to a trade withdrawal, go to the FSA web site.

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