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Sudan 1

By WLR DietitiaN Juliette Kellow BSc RD

In the 80s, we had salmonella in eggs. Then it was BSE in beef in the 90s. Now the noughties have given us Sudan 1 dye in processed foods. Not a decade goes by without a major food scare hitting the headlines – and this time it’s a cancer-causing contaminant that’s led to the biggest food recall in history.

At the time of writing, almost 600 products had been removed from our supermarket shelves and restaurants after being contaminated with an illegal red dye called Sudan 1. The culprit was a batch of chilli powder used in Crosse & Blackwell Worcester Sauce, which was then used as an ingredient in a wide range of products, including ready meals, sauces, soups, pizzas, sausages, salad dressings and crisps.

Unsurprisingly, this contaminated chilli has left health experts and consumers hot and bothered. Sudan 1 – typically used for colouring oils, waxes, petrol and shoe polishes – is thought to increase the risk of cancer, although it’s not known how much is considered to be unsafe.

Fortunately, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) – the government organisation responsible for co-ordinating the recall – believe if you’ve eaten a contaminated product you’re unlikely to have damaged your health and there’s no risk of immediate illness. However, they’ve advised consumers not to eat any more products containing the dye and as a result, have been working around the clock with the food industry, catering suppliers and local authorities to make sure all affected products have been removed from supermarket shelves and catering establishments.

While it’s mostly high-fat, calorie-laden foods that have been affected, slimmers still need to check their cupboards and freezers as several low-fat salad dressings and reduced-calorie ready meals have been affected – and no supermarket has been left untouched. Just a few examples of affected products in healthy eating ranges include Asda Good For You! Cottage Pie, Iceland Good Choice Chicken Hot Pot, Morrisons Eat Smart Sausage & Mash, Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself Caesar Dressing, Tesco Healthy Living Beef & Ale Casserole, Waitrose Perfectly Balanced Roast Vegetable Pizza and Weight Watchers From Heinz Chicken in Barbecue Sauce.

The latest food scare has left most of us wondering how an illegal dye could end up in our food, especially as safety measures have been in place since 2003 to prevent this from happening. In fact, for the past two years, all dried and crushed or ground chilli coming into the UK has to be accompanied by a certificate showing it’s free of Sudan 1. Any batch that fails to have a certificate is detained for analysis and, if found to contain Sudan 1, is destroyed. Unfortunately, on this occasion, it appears the contaminated batch was accepted before these rules were set up.

But even the FSA agrees this should never have happened. Director of Enforcement at the FSA, David Statham, says, “There can be no doubt that consumers should not have been exposed to these contaminated products. Local authorities will check what actions have been taken and we will also work with them in considering what enforcement action may be appropriate following these investigations.”

Weight Loss Resources says… This latest food scare highlights yet again that eating a diet based mainly on fresh foods is best for our health. Most of the contaminated foods aren’t an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. In fact, many are likely to be packed with calories, fat, salt and additives, while containing few vitamins and minerals. When it comes to losing weight, your waistline will almost certainly benefit by eating fewer processed foods.

Our advice would be to use this unfortunate situation to reconsider your eating habits with the aim of using more fresh ingredients rather than relying so heavily on processed foods.

In the meantime, if you have any products at home that are contaminated with Sudan 1, don’t eat them and return them to the store where you bought them for a refund. A full list of affected foods is available on the FSA’s website, www.food.gov.uk/sudanlist

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This latest food scare highlights yet again that eating a diet based mainly on fresh foods is best for our health. Most of the contaminated foods aren’t an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. In fact, many are likely to be packed with calories, fat, salt and additives, while containing few vitamins and minerals. When it comes to losing weight, your waistline will almost certainly benefit by eating fewer processed foods. Try it free for 24 hours.

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This latest food scare highlights yet again that eating a diet based mainly on fresh foods is best for our health. Most of the contaminated foods aren’t an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. In fact, many are likely to be packed with calories, fat, salt and additives, while containing few vitamins and minerals. When it comes to losing weight, your waistline will almost certainly benefit by eating fewer processed foods. Try it free for 24 hours.

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