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Food Safety Focus (36th Issue, July 2009) – Food Incident Highlight

Sudan Dyes in Food

In May, Sudan I, a non-permitted colour, was found in spice mix imported into the United Kingdom from Pakistan.

Sudan I is one of the Sudan red dyes, which are synthetic chemical dyes for industrial use and are not permitted for food use. Some studies indicate these dyes may cause cancer in experimental animals; however, current evidence is inadequate to conclude they can cause cancer in humans. Illegal use of Sudan dyes are found in spice mix and chilli products overseas. Other than these products, abuse of Sudan dyes in poultry feeds to enhance the colour of egg yolks has also caused local concern.

Last month, the Centre for Food Safety released the results of a targeted food surveillance on Sudan dyes in 200 eggs and egg products. All results were satisfactory. Consumers are advised to purchase food from reliable retailers.