At least 500 food products are to be withdrawn from sale today across the UK due to contamination by an illegal dye, following advice by the Food Standards Association.

The products, which include a range of soups, sauces and ready meals, have been distributed widely across the UK and have been inadvertently contaminated with Sudan 1, which is banned in the UK and across the EU. A full list of products will be available later today.

The illegal dye was reported to have been found in a batch of chilli powder used to make a sauce.

The FSA and local authorities randomly sample more than 1,000 batches a year of imported chilli products because since July 2003 all chilli powder imported into the UK has to be certified free of Sudan 1.

This batch predates this sampling programme and was uncovered after sampling Worcester sauce exported to Italy.

Dr Jon Bell, chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, said: “Sudan 1 could contribute to an increased risk of cancer. However, at the levels present the risk is likely to be very small but it is sensible to avoid eating any more. There is no risk of immediate ill-health.

“The Agency is working with the industry to ensure that any remaining affected products are speedily removed. Because of the widespread use of this sauce to flavour other foods, we may find further affected products. We continue to take action to remove these and minimise the risks to consumers.”