Improved import screening urged over banned sweets

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Confectionery European commission Risk Konjac

Recent seizures of jelly mini-cups in the UK has prompted the food safety regulator to issue a warning reminding local authorities of the ban on their sale and the importance of import controls.

The European Commission (EC) banned the jelly mini-cups in 2004 due to concerns the sweets pose a choking hazard, particularly for children, as a result of the inclusion of some additives derived from seaweed and certain gums in the sweets.

Jelly mini-cups are defined in the legislation as “jelly confectionery of a firm consistence, contained in semi rigid mini-cups or mini-capsules, intended to be ingested in a single bite by exerting pressure on the mini-cups or mini-capsule to project the confectionery into the mouth”.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that children may suck out and swallow the sweet whole, and it is possible it might become lodged in the windpipe.

Sarah Appleby, head of enforcement at the FSA, said: ‘These sweets could cause choking and should not be on sale. We are reminding local authorities to take action if they find them in shops in their local areas.’

Earlier EC legislation – introduced in 2002 - prohibited the sale of jelly mini-cup confectionery containing Konjac as sweets containing this binding ingredient were linked then to a number of deaths of children and elderly people worldwide.

Konjac does not dissolve easily and increased the risk of sweets becoming stuck in the throat.

After the ban on Konjac sweets, manufacturers reformulated jelly mini-cup sweets, using seaweed extract or other gums as a binding agent instead of Konjac, so the sweets would dissolve in the mouth more easily.

But the EC in the 2004 legislation also banned jelly mini-cup sweets containing these additives, amid concerns they could still pose a choking hazard.

Last month saw Germany’s federal risk assessor, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), release its findings on hard sugar ball confectionery in relation to choking hazards.

It found that risks to consumers and young children in particular from their consumption are minimal but, nonetheless, should be eliminated completely.

“Through licking and sucking a critical size is reached for the consumer because the sugar balls then fits exactly into the pharynx. If it slips inadvertently, for instance while playing or sucking without full concentration, into the pharynx, the respiratory tract is blocked in the worst case,”​ warned the BfR.

Related topics Regulation & Safety Candy