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Brussels, 4 April 2005

Commission extends Sudan dye measures and reminds food operators of their responsibilities

The European Commission is extending controls for Sudan dyes to include imports of curcuma and virgin palm oil as well as chilli and chilli products, and has published a new leaflet to remind food and feed operators of their responsibilities for food safety. Member States today endorsed a Commission proposal to add curcuma and virgin palm oil to the list of food products which must be certified as free of Sudan dyes (Sudan I, II, III and Scarlet Red/Sudan IV), in order to be imported into the EU (see MEX/04/0121). The new Commission leaflet outlines the key obligations of food and feed operators when it comes to food safety.

Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: “The Commission has had strong safeguards in place against the dangers of carcinogens such as Sudan dyes for some years now and has kept these under continuous review. One of the lessons we have learned from the recent Sudan 1 contamination is that we need to extend controls for Sudan to products other than chilli in order to ensure the highest possible levels of protection for European consumers. I would urge all food operators and Member State authorities ensure that products containing these dyes do not enter the EU market, this is their responsibility”.

Commissioner Kyprianou added: “We are also publishing today a seven point leaflet for the food industry to provide them with an ‘at a glance’ reminder of their obligations for food safety. It will also be useful for consumers to know what they can expect from food operators. Food and feed operators cannot ignore their responsibilities to guarantee safe food for all EU citizens. That is why the Commission is reminding them again of their obligations, and Member States must use all necessary measures to ensure that they comply.”

Controls carried out by Member States have revealed that numerous consignments of curcuma and virgin palm oil have been found to be contaminated with Sudan dyes. Sudan dyes have been classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and are banned from use in food in the EU. National authorities are responsible for ensuring that imports of chilli powders and products are free of Sudan dyes and they must use the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed to inform the Commission and other Member States if these dyes are detected.

Partly because of the detection of Sudan 1 dye in hundreds of food products in the UK in February, the Commission considered it useful to remind food operators again of their obligations under EU Food Law through this seven-point leaflet on food safety for food and feed operators. It will be circulated as widely as possible to remind operators that, under EU Food Law, they have responsibilities such as ensuring the safety and traceability of food put on the EU market and organising its emergency withdrawal from the market if necessary.

The seven key obligations of food and feed business operators outlined in the new leaflet remind operators that they must ensure the safety of their products, take responsibility and ensure traceability, transparency and prevention. Immediate withdrawals must be carried out in the case of emergencies and co-operation with the authorities in risk-reducing actions is essential.

The leaflet “Key Obligations of Food and Feed Business Operators” can be found here:

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