More foods contaminated with Para Red

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: High performance liquid chromatography, Sudan i

Three more products added to the growing list of foods contaminated
with the banned red colour Para Red in the UK.

Bringing the total to sixty-nine, the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) highlighted a Discovery brand sandwich wrap and taco seasoning, along with a ready cooked chicken dish from Iceland as the latest products for recall from the supermarket shelves.

Illegal under the 1995 Colours in Food Regulations, the chemical dye paranitraniline red is a genotoxic carcinogen chemically similar to Sudan 1, the banned red colour at the heart of the UK's biggest food recall earlier this year.

But Para Red was only identified for the first time in the UK food chain earlier this month.

According to the FSA, the origins of the contamination lie in chilli spice batch initially supplied by Spanish company, Ramon Sabater, and believed to have originated in Uzbekistan. The spice was then distributed by Uk firm East Anglian Food Ingredients to a variety of customers who have since incorporated it into their products.

"At the levels being found the risk is likely to be very small indeed, but it is right that food businesses are removing these products from sale,"​ claims FSA director of food safety Dr Andrew Wadge.

In response to immediate calls from the food makers, food testing laboratories have rushed to design a screen for the detection of this 'new' colour contaminant.

Reading-based RSSL has only just validated a method to detect Para Red in the last week or so. The lab charges from £100 (€146) a sample for the Para Red test, using two different methods: HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) and Liquid Chromatography linked to mass spectrometry.

The former method detects to one part per million, whereas the latter, more expensive, test can detect to 100 parts per billion.

Now that new tests to detect the previously undetectable Para Red are popping up all around the country, there is the distinct possibility that product recalls will multiply.

Eager to avoid a repetition of the Sudan 1 debacle that cost millions of euros, food makers should beat a path to the testing labs.

Ian Gatsby at RSSL told FoodNavigator.com​ that industry reaction to Para Red has been more immediate than initial feedback to Sudan 1.

"People are definitely keen to avoid any repetition of Sudan,"​ he confirms.

Since Sudan, RSSL has been investigating a range of colour contaminants, among them Para Red, Sudan 7b, Orange II and Orange G, that may pose a risk.

Related topics: Policy, Food Safety & Quality

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