The potential for another massive food scare similar to last year’s Sudan 1 cancer-dye contamination may be reduced but still exists, key industry figures have told The Grocer.
Exactly a year to the day after the start of the biggest food recall in UK history, in which almost 600 products were eventually removed from shelves, industry sources believe that the chances of a similar disaster may be greatly reduced, but they could not rule out the possibility of it happening again.
The warning comes as
Sudan 1 continues to crop up in the UK food chain. Last week TRS Wholesale had to recall packets of MDH Sambhar Masala when traces of the banned dye were discovered. A TRS spokesman said the batch was shipped to the UK last April, certified Sudan-free by the Spice Board of India. He said the board had since switched its testing procedure to meet EU standards, which would prevent future problems.
Andrew Wadge, director of food safety at the Food Standards Agency, claimed increased testing and the creation of an FSA task force were helping to reduce problems but could not rule out future contamination.
“Although we can’t rule out the possibility of another illegal food dye incident happening in the future, this latest incident has reinforced the importance of companies checking that ingredients are from reliable suppliers and fit for consumption,” he said.
Ian Gadsby, business development manager at Reading Scientific Services, confirmed that the volume of tests being carried out for food companies had increased and that they were being carried out to more stringent standards.
Simon Cripps, executive chairman of the Seasoning and Spice Association, said it had implemented a massive level of testing for both identified and emerging dyes since last year.
Meanwhile, the FSA’s probe into last year’s recall is ongoing. The source of contamination was traced back to chilli powder imported from India by East Anglian Food Ingredients in 2002 and sold on to Essex-based Unbar Rothon, which sold five tonnes of it to Premier Foods.
The crisis was triggered after Premier used the powder in its Crosse & Blackwell Worcester sauce, which was sold to other food producers as an ingredient.
Ronan Hegarty