Food Law News - UK - 2005

FSA Press Release (Ref: 2005/0573), 5 May 2005

CONTAMINANTS - More food products found to be contaminated with illegal chemical dye

The Food Standards Agency has been informed by food businesses that a further 35 products have been found to have been made with spices that could be contaminated with an illegal dye, Para Red. The products are being withdrawn from sale by the companies concerned.

At the levels found the risk from eating any of these foods is very small, but as a precaution it would be sensible not to eat them. The amounts of Para Red found in the spices are very low. Over the past three days, the Agency has been working with the UK food industry to identify the affected products. These investigations are continuing and more products may well be found.

A list of the affected products can be found on this site. See Para Red List

People who have any of these foods at home can contact the shop or the manufacturer where they bought it for a refund.

Updates will be added as the Agency is informed of further affected products by food businesses and people should also look out for in-store notices and other publicity about affected products.

The contamination of spices with illegal dyes is a European-wide issue and the Agency has been pressing the European Commission to lead a co-ordinated approach.

The Commission will hold a meeting with Member States on Tuesday 10 May to consider the best way to tackle the issue.

The Agency's Director of Food Safety Dr Andrew Wadge said: 'Para Red, like Sudan I, is an illegal dye that should not be in food. People understandably don't expect or want it to be in their food. At the levels being found the risk is likely to be very small indeed, but it is right that food businesses are removing these products from sale. We are pleased that the European Commission is going to develop a European-wide approach to tackling this issue. Concerted action across Europe is the most effective way forward.'

Para Red is an industrial dye that is not permitted for use in food. It is chemically similar to Sudan I, a dye that was implicated in the contamination of other food products in February.

The Agency's independent scientific experts advise that it would be prudent to assume that Para Red, like Sudan I, could be a genotoxic carcinogen, and so exposure to it should be as low as reasonably practical.

The contaminated spice was supplied by Spanish company, Ramon Sabater, and is believed to originate in Uzbekistan . (This is a separate batch to that which resulted in a recall for Old El Paso Dinner kits),

The spice was imported into the UK by Lion Foods who supplied a number of companies. Following confirmation of contamination the FSA issued notices to the companies concerned that the products should be recalled on Tuesday 3 May.

The companies concerned have been co-operating with the FSA in compiling and checking product lists since then.

The FSA has added that the spice used in this batch is cayenne pepper.

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