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Food Safety Focus (42nd Issue, January 2010) – Food Incident Highlight

Iodine in Soy Milk

On 24 December 2009 , the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued a recall notice on Bonsoy soy milk from Japan after a cluster of ten individuals presented with thyroid problems following the consumption of Bonsoy soy milk. The authority advised the public not to consume the product as unusually high levels of iodine were found (generally iodine levels in soy milk are low), possibly due to the addition of a seaweed product for enrichment purpose.

Seafood and particularly seaweed are good sources of iodine. Iodine is an essential nutrient and used for the production of thyroid hormones, which is necessary for growth and development. Therefore, either excessive iodine or deficiency in iodine can cause thyroid problems, with symptoms such as fatigue and weight loss.

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) issued a food alert warning consumers and the trade not to consume or sell the affected product after learning that Bonsoy soy milk had been imported into Hong Kong . The product had been distributed to a number of chained supermarkets and food shops and was immediately withdrawn from shelf. The CFS would follow up with the distributors on disposal of the recalled product. Individuals may consider seeking medical advice, if they have prolonged intake of this product.