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Watchdogs go after malignant red dye
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-24 02:54

Sudan I, a potentially cancer-causing colorant, is the latest target for China's product quality watchdogs after the disclosure that the red dye has tainted hundreds of food items in Britain.

The State Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine yesterday slapped a ban on imports of any foods containing the carcinogenic substance, and began screening foods from the European Union.

The British Food Standards Agency last Friday advised people not to eat foods that have been contaminated with Sudan I, an illegal dye which was banned for use in the United Kingdom and across the European Union.

Sudan I can contribute to an increased risk of cancer, but there is no risk of immediate illness and the health risk generally is likely to be very small, Food Standards Agency Chief Executive Dr Jon Bell said in a statement posted at www.food.gov.uk the agency's website.

"But if you have any of these products at home, it's sensible not to ingest them," he was quoted as saying.

By Tuesday, the watchdog had released an updated list of 428 affected food products, ranging from BBQ sauce to pies, including those made by Heinz and Unilever. And the State Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine warns that foods that might contain Sudan I also include sandwiches and pizzas. 

China's quality supervision agency put a Chinese version of the known affected list, plus an urgent notice, in the public domain (www.aqsiq.gov.cn) yesterday.

The agency also asked local inspectors to check domestic food makers to ensure their products or raw materials are free of the dye.

Food that contains the substance is not allowed to be sold or exported, a statement from the Chinese agency said. China has already forbidden the use of Sudan I in foods, according to agency sources.

Unilever Co Ltd, which had nine of its products produced in Britain included in the affected list, yesterday said those food products are not made or sold in China.

"Unilever China has also checked all its Chinese suppliers and found their products contain no Sudan I," Wang Hui, a staffer with the Unilever Co Ltd in Shanghai, said yesterday.

Heinz, another leading food maker, yesterday said none of its five products being recalled in Britain were sold in China, including the Hong Kong region and Taiwan Province.

All Heinz companies in China follow Chinese and international quality standards, and comply with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points requirements, said Wang Lizhi, external affairs manager for Heinz (China) Investment Co Ltd.

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