Food Law News - UK - 2005

FSA News Item, 6 May 2005

CONTAMINANTS - Para Red: latest news, advice and recalls

Food businesses have told the Agency today that a further 12 products have been confirmed to contain spices contaminated with illegal dye Para Red. The latest products are being withdrawn from sale by the companies concerned. They are in addition to the 35 issued on 5 May 2005 .

The Agency's advice to consumers remains the same. The amounts of Para Red found in the spices are very low. 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 affected foods are listed on the FSA web site [but see below as well]. If you have any of them at home you can contact the store, or the manufacturer you bought it from, for a refund.

These latest products were made using the same batch of contaminated spices as those products identified yesterday (5 May) by the Agency. They were all made using contaminated spices supplied by Lion Foods in the UK . The Agency will continue to work with the UK food industry to establish whether any other companies have been supplied with contaminated spices. This list will be updated as the Agency is informed of further affected products 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 to the issue. The Commission will hold a meeting with member states on Tuesday 10 May to consider the best way to tackle the problem.

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, which means it could cause cancer by damaging DNA, 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 . 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.

A copy of the list of the affected products is available on this site. See: Para Red List (2)

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