UK authorities in the dark
over aflatoxin-contaminated peanut butter
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/UK-authorities-in-the-dark-over-aflatoxin-contaminated-peanut-butter
By Rory Harrington, 22-Jul-2009
Food safety authorities in the UK have
confirmed they know neither the exact quantity nor precise location of
peanut butter and paste contaminated with aflatoxins up to 190 times above
the legal limit.
Standards Agency (FSA) issued a food alert this week to say
Active brand peanut
butter and Active brand groundnut paste made by Jesu Aka Ltd contaminated
with “excessively high levels of aflatoxins” had been imported into the UK.
They are believed to have been distributed to specialist African and
Afro-Caribbean food stores around London.
Excessively high contamination levels
“The levels of contamination found in the Active groundnut paste
were 46 µg/kg of aflatoxin B1 and 59 µg/kg of total aflatoxin. For the Jesu
Aka Ltd. peanut butter the levels found were 380 µg/kg of aflatoxin B1 and
410 µg/kg of total aflatoxin”, a FSA spokesperson
She added: “This compares with maximum levels of 2 µg/kg for
aflatoxin B1 and 4 µg/kg for total aflatoxin. Having looked at the risk to
health from these products we can see that at normal levels of consumption
of peanut butter there is unlikely to be any immediate concern.”
The products, which were manufactured in Ghana and imported and
distributed by Marduro UK Ltd, also failed to comply with UK labelling
The FSA said it is working council officials and the company to
track down the tainted peanut products. Enforcement officers have been
urged to visit African or Afro-Caribbean food stores in their areas, remove
any of the products by the two companies and alert the FSA.
“Unfortunately, we've been unable to establish the exact
distribution of the products but we're working with local authorities to
establish where these products may be on the market. The intelligence we
have received to date suggests that we are looking at relatively small
amounts of the product”, added the FSA spokesperson. “The company
concerned has been working with the local authority leading the
investigation into these products to establish a distribution history.”
Aflatoxins are a type of toxin which are produced by certain moulds
that grow on foods in tropical and sub-tropical countries.
Active Peanut Butter and Active Groundnut Paste products are sold in
clear plastic jars of various sizes, with a yellow lid and a red and yellow
label. The wording 'Active Peanut Butter' or 'Active Groundnut Paste' is
boldly printed on the label. The expiry date and batch code are often
handwritten on the label or not provided at all.
The peanut butter manufactured by Jesu Aka Ltd is also sold in clear
plastic jars with a yellow lid and a yellow and beige label. The wording
‘Peanut Butter’ is boldly printed on the label, with ‘manufactured by Jesu
Aka Ltd’ appearing in smaller-sized text. The expiry date and batch code
are handwritten on the label, which is sometimes unreadable. There is no
clear brand name for this product, said the FSA.