Heat on cayenne...

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sudan iv, Sudan i, European union

The flood of warnings over food products entering the EU zone
containing the potentially carcinogenic food colour Sudan 1
continues with the UK's watchdog recalling two different brands in
as many days.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) this week withdrew a cayenne pepper batch and a tandoori masala mix after they found both products were contaminated with the illegal dye, Sudan I.

"The Very Best of Booths Cayenne is produced for EH Booth & Co Ltd of Preston and sold through supermarkets in the north west of England. Importers Moona Foods have withdrawn Mehran brand Tandoori Masala Mix from sale,"​ said the FSA in a statement.

Believed to cause cancer if consumed in large enough quantities, Sudan I is a forbidden colour under the Colours in Food Regulations 1995. 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 unearths more batches that could be potentially contaminated.

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

In January this year a 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 - can only 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).

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 150 products - ranging from pesto sauce to chicken tikka masala - from the supermarket shelves since July 2003 and enforcement of the new measures. A costly procedure for food manufacturers but one necessary to ensure food safety.

From now on, chilli and chilli products including curry powder can only be imported into the EU if they are accompanied by an analytical report which shows that they do not contain 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 will use 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.

Related topics: Policy, Food Safety & Quality

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