An Emergency Control Order to make sure that Egyptian peanuts cannot be imported into the UK has been signed by Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker. The Order, made under Section 13 of the 1990 Food Safety Act, reinforces an EC-wide ban for four months on imports of Egyptian peanuts which have been found to be contaminated with a toxic substance.
Mr Rooker said today:
"Peanuts from Egypt are not currently imported into the UK, so consumers have nothing to worry about. But in Greece and Italy, these nuts have been found to contain toxins which are a possible cause of cancer in humans, and have been associated with the development of liver tumours in animals. It is essential that we make sure Egyptian peanuts cannot be sent over here for domestic consumption, or possibly for onward shipment to other Member States. I am satisfied that importation of peanuts from Egypt at the moment may pose a risk to human health."
Consignments of Egyptian peanuts were found by Greek and Italian authorities to be heavily contaminated with an aflatoxin B1 at levels up to 485 micrograms per kilogram (the maximum statutory level in peanuts for human consumption is 2 micrograms per kilogram). EC experts will visit Egypt during the four-month Euro ban to investigate, and seek guarantees enabling the ban to be lifted and possibly replaced with special import conditions.