Illegal red colour identified in palm oil

Related tags European union

A popular food oil used extensively in food formulations is the
latest product-type to be pulled from the UK supermarket shelves as
the country's food watchdog identifies the illegal carcinogen Sudan
IV in a batch of palm oil brands.

Bottled by Macphilips Foods, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said this week that a range of the firm's palm oils had been contaminated with the red dye Sudan IV, a potentically genotoxic carcinogen strictly prohibited in foodstuffs for any purpose.

"Macphilips Foods have ceased distributing the affected products and are instigating a trade withdrawal,"​ said the FSA​.

Macphilips' food products are the latest recalls in a seemingly endless list of contaminated foodstuffs that have been found in the UK food chain since the FSA started investigating the presence of this harmful dye, also known as 'scarlet red', in UK food products freely available on the market.

What started as a trickle in July last year - when the European Commission alerted Member States that products contaminated with Sudan I from India had been found in France - is rapidly turning into a river of food product recalls as the FSA continues to unearth more potentially contaminated batches.

"We have undergone a constant process since July last year - tracing products throughout the chain and building up a picture of where contaminated products could have ended up,"​ a spokesman for the UK's FSA recently told FoodNavigator.com.

Products affected by the latest FSA recall are 'Golden Sun Brand Palm Oil, 1 litre, 500ml, 370ml sizes', 'Pure Zomi Oil, 500ml size', and 'Macphilips Foods Own Brand Palm Oil, 2 litre size'.

In January this year a European Commission clampdown extended the rules on the illegal red chemical dyes to include curry powder - a move that tightened 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 of the illegal chemical dyes - Sudan I, Sudan II, Sudan III or Scarlet Red (Sudan IV) - classified as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Random checks will also be carried out on chilli and curry products already on the market. Maximising the communication flow between EU members, the nation states are using the EU's Rapid Alert System to alert other states of any Sudan dye discovered in products already on sale in the EU or in consignments rejected at EU borders.

The emergency rules are due for review in January 2005. <-p>That the rules now include curry powder, found extensively in European food products, means more paperwork and potentially a surge in product recalls for the food industry.

In the UK alone, the food industry has recalled for destruction more than 200 products - ranging from pesto sauce to chicken tikka masala - since July 2003 and enforcement of the new measures. A costly procedure for food manufacturers, but one necessary to ensure food safety.

Related topics Food safety and labeling

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