yellow prompts spate of spice recalls
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Illegal-yellow-prompts-spate-of-spice-recalls
By Jess Halliday, 10-Apr-2009
The presence of banned colouring
methyl yellow in food spices in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Germany
has led to a slate of recalls; although not affecting finished foods for
now, the issue is reminiscent of the Sudan Red recalls of 2005.
On April 1 the Belgian food safety authority
AFSCA/FAVV said it had been notified that the banned colour
had been detected in routine checks made by companies on curry
powder imported by a Belgian company from India.
Consequently, the authority decided to recall
all contaminated curry, curry pastes, and curry-based spice mixes from
the importer. All batches of curry in which the colour has been detected
are to be destroyed, and all spice mixes in which curry from the
contaminated batches has been used unless they test negative to methyl
yellow (below 15 ppb).
Although the methyl yellow issue appears
relatively contained and, so far, no finished products have been recalled
from shelves, the issue is reminiscent of the Sudan Red recall of 2005,
when the carcinogenic dye was detected in a Worcester sauce product
produced by UK company Premier Foods.
Because the product is used as an ingredient in
a number of branded and retailer own-label products, as well as being
sold as bottles of Worcester sauce, the matter led to a massive recall of
products from supermarket shelves – the largest ever in the UK.
The incident was particularly difficult to deal
with since Sudan Red is an ingredient with a long supply chain that was
used in many products, some with a long shelf life.
Methyl yellow recalls
The maximum level of methyl yellow
(4-dimethylaminoazobenzene), a potential carcinogen
and mutagen, detected in contaminated goods so far is 1600 ppb.
AFSCA has said that consumers who may have eaten
contaminated curry are not in danger; it has opted against recalling all
manufactured foods in which the spices have been used, on the basis of
the level of contamination detected as at 1 April.
However a number of recalls have been made on
jars of spice powder already distributed to retail outlets. In the latest
announcement, issued yesterday by ISFI Spices, listed five lots of Madras
curry powder in which traces of the chemical have been detected. It urges
customers not to use the products and to return them to the store where
they bought them to be reimbursed.
Delhaize supermarket has also recalled its
own-brand Cayenne Pepper; Flavori has opted to recall its Curry Madrs and
a number of mixes in which it has been used, for chicken, paella, red
curry and fish products; Colruyt has recalled its Topaz curry, and
Antarctic II its Cigalou curry.
AFSSA, the French food safety authority, does
not list any recalled products on its website.
A spokesperson for AFSCA/FAVV told
FoodNavigator.com that the name of the importer has not been publicly
released, but it has been communicated to food firms who may have used
the contaminated spice.
The reason for the contamination and any lines
of investigation have not been disclosed.