Sudan colour recalls continue in UK

Related tags European union Sudan iv Sudan i

Illegal red colour identified in a popular food oil prompts the
latest in a series of recalls in the UK called by the country's
food watchdog.

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has pulled the All Natural Palm Oil Foods (Ngopa) brand from the shelves, already involved in a recall in November last year.

These 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 told last year.

Products affected by the latest FSA recall are 'All Natural Palm Oil, Pure Palm Oil (Ngopa)' sold in 1062ml and one litre quantities, best before 2009.

"The 1062ml product is in a clear glass jar, with a white screw top lid, and the 1 litre one is in an opaque plastic bottle, with either a blue or red screw top cap. However, other sizes or batch codes of this product may exist,"​ warned the FSA.

In January 2004 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 this month. 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 250 products - ranging from pesto sauce to chicken tikka masala - since July 2003 and enforcement of the new measures.

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