21/10/2004 - A popular food oil used extensively in food formulations isthe latest product-type to be pulled from the UK supermarket shelves asthe country’s food watchdog identifies the illegal carcinogen Sudan IV ina batch of palm oil brands.
Bottled by GCC Foods, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said this weekthat the firm's brand of palm oil has been found to be contaminated withthe illegal dye, Sudan IV, a potentially genotoxic carcinogen strictlyprohibited in foodstuffs for any purpose.The GCC Foods palm oil products are the latest recalls in a seeminglyendless list of contaminated foodstuffs that have been found in the UKfood chain since the FSA started investigating the presence of thisharmful dye, also known as ‘scarlet red’, in UK food products freelyavailable on the market.
What started as a trickle in July last year - when the European Commissionalerted Member States that products contaminated with Sudan I from Indiahad been found in France - is rapidly turning into a river of food productrecalls as the FSA continues to unearth more potentially contaminatedbatches.
"We have undergone a constant process since July last year tracingproducts throughout the chain and building up a picture of wherecontaminated products could have ended up," a spokesman for the UK’s FSArecently told FoodNavigator.com.
The product affected by this latest FSA recall is GCC Foods palm oil soldin one kilo plastic containers and an expiry date of 02.06.06.
In January this year a European Commission clampdown extended the rules onthe illegal red chemical dyes to include curry powder - a move thattightened measures and extended the paper trail for ingredients.
Brussels now requires that imports of chilli and chilli products -including curry powder cross the EU border with proof they are free ofthe illegal chemical dyes - Sudan I, Sudan II, Sudan III or Scarlet Red(Sudan IV) - classified as carcinogens by the International Agency forResearch on Cancer.
Random checks will also be carried out on chilli and curry productsalready on the market. Maximising the communication flow between EUmembers, the nation states are using the EU’s Rapid Alert System to alertother states of any Sudan dye discovered in products already on sale inthe EU or in consignments rejected at EU borders.
The emergency rules are due for review in January 2005.
In the UK alone, the food industry has recalled for destruction more than200 products ranging from pesto sauce to chicken tikka masala since July2003 and enforcement of the new measures. A costly procedure for foodmanufacturers, but one necessary to ensure food safety.