cp health news
Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

More foods containing cancer-linked additive added to British, Canadian lists

LONDON (CP) - Britain's Food Standards Agency on Thursday extended a list of foods that could be contaminated with a dye linked to cancer.

A total of 474 food products are being recalled, amid fears they could contain traces of Sudan I - a red dye used for colouring oils, waxes, petrol and shoe polish.

The Food Standards Agency sparked an international food safety alert on Feb. 18 when it announced that a sauce contaminated with the dye had been used in hundreds of British foods and exported to Canada and the United States, as well as several European and Caribbean countries.

The list of recalled foods includes dressings used by McDonald's fast-food chain, packets of potato chips and prepared meals.

Sudan I is banned from food in Britain and across the European Union, and since 2003 all chili powder imported to Britain must be certified to be free of Sudan I.

The batch thought to be responsible for the food scare predates the sampling program. It was uncovered when Italian authorities carried out tests on a batch of Worcestershire sauce shipped to Italy from England.

Canadian food safety authorities immediately began trying to determine which of the products covered by the initial recall made it to Canada and where in the distribution chain those products were.

Last week, the agency warned consumers to avoid using Crosse & Blackwell Worcestershire sauce, sold in a 150-ml bottle bearing the bearing UPC 0 55000 05564 2. All lot codes starting with L3, L4 and L5 are affected by the alert.

The product was distributed nationally, the agency said in a statement, and bottles still on store shelves were being withdrawn by the importer.

A Health Canada official said on Feb. 18 that the dye is considered a suspected carcinogen, having been shown in at least one study to trigger cancer in an animal species.

But John Salminen said the risk in this case may be very low.

"Normally, colours in products of this type are used at very low levels. And when you consider a product added to another product added to another product as an ingredient and so on, then there is a dilution factor," said Salminen, chief of the division of chemical health hazard assessment.

"So we would expect the risk to be low. But we don't have any specific details of use levels or anything of that nature."

The Food Standards Agency said Sudan I could contribute to an increased risk of cancer, but it was not possible to identify a safe level or to quantify the risk.


On the Web:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency: [url=http://www.inspection.gc.ca:56cf9]www.inspection.gc.ca[/url:56cf9]

[This message has been edited by SheTies (edited 26 February 2005).]