India advised to separate food and industrial guar gum

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Guar gum United kingdom

A draft report on India's guar gum industry following dioxin
contamination issues earlier this year recommends a separation of
food- and industrial-grade gum during manufacture and processing,
say media sources.

In July Swiss company Unipektin recalled guar gum that it was supplying to EU markets from Indian company India Glycos after it was found to contain between 12 and 156 pictograms of dioxin per gram of fat - way over the EU accepted level of one to six pictograms. Subsequently, recalls of guar gum or food products containing guar gum took place in 16 of the 27 EU member states. A team of three EU inspectors went to India in October to take a close-up look at the country's guar gum industry. According to The Economic Times of India​, a draft report of the visit has now been sent to India's commerce and trade ministry, and officials there will respond before the final version is prepared. The full content of the draft has not been disclosed, but a senior official reportedly said it asked for a separation of food and industrial grade guar gum throughout the course of the production process. India produces 80 per cent of the world's guar gum, but according to the newspaper the market has hit an all-time low following the dioxin contamination while the report is awaited. However this state of affairs is at odds with a report from The Hindu Business Line in October, which said that the dioxin problem no longer exists, and Indian consignments are again being accepted by the EU. Jeewan Gandhi, president of Indian Guar Gum Manufacturers Association, reportedly said: "Our consignments are tested by Vimta Labs in Hyderabad and based on its certification, consignments are being accepted." ​But the last update from Unipektin dated September 17 said that thus has not yet said identified the source of the contamination, and was hoping the EU delegation would shed more light on the matter. In the meantime, it said PCP contamination had been identified in guar gum from another supplier, but it was identified and delivery blocked thanks to tightened controls. Guar gum, a water-soluble dietary fibre, is obtained from the seeds of the guar plant found on the Indian sub-continent and the US. Because of its high viscosity, the gum can be hydrolysed so that it can be used in quantities that infer a physiological effect. It is a common additive in a broad range of food products. Toxic dioxins are formed as by-products of industrial processes involving chlorine, such as pesticide manufacturing and waste incineration. They have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and birth defects, and immune disorders. At the time the contamination came to light, Unipektin said that since guar gum is highly diluted in food products, "there is no acute health risk for consumers."

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