Excessive aflatoxin levels found in UK spice

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags United kingdom Food standards authority

A spice powder in the UK has been discovered to contain excessive
levels of aflatoxins.

The product in question, entitled Suya Pepper Spiced Khebab Powder, is distributed in the United Kingdom and is manufactured in Ghana. The UK's Food Standards Authority (FSA) has now issued a food alert.

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain moulds growing on some food crops during production and storage. There are limits on the level of aflatoxins that can be in foods imported into the UK and the rest of the European Union.

Europe's former Scientific Committee for Food (tasks of which are now handled by the European Food Safety Authority) recommends that aflatoxin concentrations in food should be reduced to the lowest levels reasonably achievable.

The FSA says that the consumption of a small amount of aflatoxin-contaminated food is unlikely to cause ill effects. However, aflatoxins have been shown to cause cancer in a number of animal species by damaging DNA.

There is also some evidence to suggest they may be harmful to humans. Experts have recommended that aflatoxins in food should be reduced to the lowest levels achievable.

Suya Pepper Spiced Khebab Powder, is believed to be sold in large and small plastic containers with a yellow lid and a red/yellow label. The wording 'Active SUYA PEPPER Spiced Khebab Powder' is boldly written on the label but there is no date marking or batch code. An image of the jar is attached below.

Despite enquiries by local authorities in London, distributor Marduro has not provided full distribution details, although distribution is believed to be restricted to the London area. This product appears to be distributed through direct van sales, where retailers who sell African or African-Caribbean food products are the main clients.

Local authority enforcement officers have been told that if any of these products are found during routine inspections, they should ensure that they are withdrawn from sale and destroyed.

Food alerts are the FSA's way of letting local authorities and consumers know about problems associated with food and, in some cases, providing details of specific action to be taken.

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