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20th December 2016

Unsafe chemical levels of found in Lidl gravy granules

Lidl has issued a recall on two batches of Kania Gravy Granules after unsafe levels of a chemical were found in then. STV reports that the paint-thinning chemical Xylene has been found in the gravy granules which can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

STS Director Fiona Sinclair says: “Chemical contamination of food is relatively rare, with microbiological contamination of food forming the majority of food related incident and food scares however, chemical food poisoning can be extremely serious. Some types cause acute symptoms such as vomiting quickly after consumption, whereas other chemicals can cause longer terms symptoms and diseases such as cancer.

“Acute chemical poisoning is relatively rare. Cases usually arise through carelessness and accidents such as storing chemicals such as cleaning fluids, pesticides and rodenticides (rat poison) in unlabelled containers.

“Chemicals can enter food stuffs via accidental spillage or other means of contamination during food storage or processing. Chemical contamination can also be caused by chemicals being deliberately added to foods e.g. additives and preservatives which are used in some food products. These are rigorously tested to assess whether they are permissible in food stuffs and, if so, at what levels. The presence of some in food may cause ill health, particularly at elevated levels. Examples of this include nitrates and nitrites which are added to food as preservatives and to add colour but, at high levels can be carcinogenic and/or cause acute symptoms. The flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate can cause burning sensations when used in high levels. An example of a topical chemical contaminant is Acrylamide, a chemical which forms naturally during the cooking of starch rich foods at a high temperature but which can be carcinogenic when used at high levels.

“The key to keep your customers safe is to source food from reputable suppliers who have robust HACCP systems in place to address and control chemical hazards. Prevention is better than cure but food businesses are encouraged to work closely with their suppliers to ensure that in the event of a chemical contamination incident, recall or withdrawal is efficient and prompt. It’s also sensible to subscribe to the FSA’s Food Alerts as a precautionary measure.”


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