FSA issues erucic acid warning

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food standards agency

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) is advising people not to eat
a limited number of jars and packets of pickles, sauces and
preserved vegetables imported from Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and
India, following a survey that showed that these products contained
illegally high levels of erucic acid.

Eight out of 71 samples of pickles, sauces and preserved vegetables were found to contain levels of erucic acid exceeding the UK legal limit. These are in addition to several products found to have illegal levels of erucic acid in an earlier survey by Birmingham City Council.

The Erucic Acid in Food Regulations 1977 limit the erucic acid content of foods to no more than 5 per cent of the total fatty acid, in products with more than 5 per cent fat.

The Food Standards Agency​ is advising against eating all the products identified as having illegal levels of erucic acid in both surveys.

The affected products were found mostly in small food shops and cash and carrys serving local ethnic communities. The products include varieties of preserved chilli beans, mango pickle and minced green chilli paste.

Andrew Wadge, director of food safety at the FSA said: "The affected products are a small part of the pickles and preserve market aimed primarily at the Chinese and South Asian communities, but it is important that we act to take them off the shelves.

"As well as asking local authorities to act to remove these packets and jars from sale and to ensure similar products sold in their areas don't break the law, we are also talking to the importers of these foods to highlight the concerns about high levels of erucic acid and to identify the source of the problem."

The FSA survey sampled small shops and cash and carry premises and the FSA has asked local authorities to investigate the distribution of any of the affected products to retail and catering outlets.

Erucic acid is a substance naturally found in some plant-derived oils, primarily in some varieties of mustard seed oil and high erucic acid rapeseed oil. Although there have been no confirmed cases of erucic acid toxicity in humans, high levels of erucic acid have been linked to the formation of fatty deposits in heart muscle in animals.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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