Food Standards Agency Issues Further Chilli Product Warnings

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Chilli Product Warnings

The Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland is issuing a further food hazard warning as a result of its investigation into products on the UK market that may contain the chemical dye Sudan I.

Sudan I must not be used in food because it could cause cancer. However, there is no immediate threat of illness. Those most at risk would be people eating contaminated products regularly and over a long period of time.

Since July 2003, the Agency has been investigating any food products in the UK that may have been affected by contaminated chilli powder.

It is understood that three chilli suppliers in India had been adulterating their chilli powder with the red dye Sudan I, which is not permitted for use in food.

To date, a number of products have been withdrawn and recalled from sale in the UK because the chilli powder they contained had been linked to these sources.

Further to the food hazard warning issued in September 2003 relating to the Favourit brand range of seasonings packed by Martin Foods, Belfast, BT15 2GG, other Favourit brand products are now known to be contaminated with the dye. Only the products listed below are affected; no other Favourit products are affected.

Retail Packs

Favourit Madras Curry Powder 50g
Favourit Chilli Powder 50g
Favourit Mild Curry Powder 50g
Favourit Vindaloo Hot Curry Powder 50g
Favourit Cajun Seasoning 40g

Catering Packs, 500g Tubs

Favourit Quality Fine Ground Hot Chilli Powder
Favourit Madras Curry Powder (Aromatic, Spicy and Hot)
Favourit Mild Curry Powder
Favourit Extra Hot Vindaloo Curry Powder
Favourit Cajun Seasoning

Catering Packs, 3kg Bags

Favourit Chilli Powder Hot
Favourit Madras Curry Powder
Favourit Mild Curry Powder
Favourit Hot Curry Powder
Favourit Cajun Seasoning

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The 500g products are packaged in a white tub with a red lid and the 40g and 50g products are packaged in a clear tub with a red lid. The 3kg products are packaged in a white plastic bag.

The date codes affected for all products are June 2004, July 2004, August 2004, September 2004, October 2004, November 2004, December 2004, January 2005, February 2005, March 2005, April 2005, May 2005, June 2005, July 2005, August 2005 and September 2005.

In addition, Madras Curry Powder 50g, Madras Curry Powder (Aromatic, Spicy and Hot) 500g and Madras Curry Powder 3kg dated October 2005 are affected. No other date codes are affected.

Members of the public and caterers/retailers who have purchased a contaminated product (such as one with a date code between June 2004 and September 2005 inclusive, and also October 2005 in the case of Madras Curry Powder and Madras Curry Powder (Aromatic Spicy and Hot)) should either throw it away, or return it to the shop/supplier and request a refund.

The Favourit products affected have been distributed in Northern Ireland by the following wholesalers and distributors:

J&J Haslett, Dunmurry
Holmes Catering Services, Ballymoney
Holmes Cash and Carry, Omagh
Holmes Cash and Carry, Enniskillen
Holmes Cash and Carry, Newtownards
Holmes Cash and Carry, Cookstown
Holmes Cash and Carry, Ballymena
Holmes Cash and Carry, Coleraine
Holmes Cash and Carry, Londonderry
Knox Cash and Carry, Lurgan
Musgrave Cash and Carry, Belfast
TNB Catering Food Services, Newtownabbey
O'Kane Food Service, Lisburn
Aghadowey Food Service, Coleraine
D&D Food Services, Londonderry
Savage and Whitten Wholesale, Newry
Western Catering Supplies, Omagh
Golden Glen, Lisburn
Blacks Catering Foods, Belfast

The products have also been supplied to several independent retailers including some Supervalu, Centra, Mace, Spar, Vivo and VG shops.

The Agency received notification from the European Commission (EC) in July that some products, which had been found in France, were contaminated with Sudan I and had been produced in the UK.

The French findings have led to investigations, in the UK and other Member States, into a number of companies and products using chilli powder from the Indian companies.

The three Indian companies that have been identified as the source of contaminated chilli powder have had their licence to trade suspended by the Indian Spice Board pending further investigation.

Under a new EC Decision, which came into force on 30 July 2003, any new cargoes of dried and crushed or ground chilli coming into any EU Member State, must now be accompanied by a certificate showing they have been tested and found to be free of Sudan I.

Any consignment that does not have a certificate will be detained for sampling and analysis. Port officials can also test any other food products.

Anything containing Sudan I will be seized and destroyed. Local authorities are also carrying out random sampling. All products found to contain Sudan I must be seized and destroyed.

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