High levels of potentially cancer causing
chemicals have been found in some soy sauce products.
- Soy sauce cancer warning
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning to consumers following the results
of tests on 100 samples, of which 22 gave cause for concern.
All of the affected products should be removed from the shelves
and consumers should throw away any that they may have
However, the FSA has stressed that the majority of
samples contained none of these contaminants whatsoever, and that all those from major
retail chains were completely safe.
The survey, conducted last year, found that some samples contained a chemical called
3-MCPD at levels considerably higher than those deemed safe by the EU.
About two-thirds of these samples also contained a second chemical called 1,3-DCP which
experts advise should not be present at any levels in food.
Both chemicals have the potential to cause cancer.
The affected products are imported from Thailand, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and
mostly sold in shops specialising in oriental foods.
It is also alleged that some of the products are
Although a quarter of samples taken posed concern, the actual proportion of the UK
market taken by these products is thought to be very small.
The FSA is taking action to ensure that the products identified are removed from sale
and that consumers do not use them.
The chemicals could cause harm to people who use these products with most of their
meals on a daily basis over a long period of time.
Occasional consumers are unlikely to be harmed.
FSA Deputy Chair, Suzi Leather said: "We want to ensure that consumers of these
products are informed of the risks and that effective action is taken to protect them.
"All of the affected products should be removed from the shelves and consumers
should throw away any that they may have.
"I want to stress that only a limited range of soy products are affected. We are
particularly concerned to protect people who have high levels of consumption, as they will
be most at risk from the harmful effects of these chemicals.
This is most likely to be people from East and South East Asian communities.
"Soy sauce can be produced without these chemicals and we expect swift action from
the industry to ensure that the planned EU legal limits are met. "
The FSA is issuing information leaflets to communities most affected.
It has also issued a Food Hazard Warning asking local enforcement officers to remove
any of the products that may still be on sale.
Both 3-MCDP and 1,3-DCP belong to a group of chemicals known as chloropropanols. Their
presence in soy sauce is avoidable.
They are usually produced by the addition of Acid Hydrolysed Vegetable protein to
- China soy sauce makers protest UK health warning
- By Jeremy Page
- BEIJING, June 22 (Reuters)
Chinese soy sauce makers protested and threatened legal action on
Friday after Britain's food watchdog said several brands may contain cancer-causing
chemicals. And consumers in China -- the world's largest soy sauce producer -- ignored the
British Food Standards Agency's warning, stressing instead the health and culinary
benefits of the rich, dark condiment.
Three Chinese soy sauce producers whose brands appeared on the FSA
danger list denied its charges that their products contained 3-MCPD -- a chemical that can
cause cancer if taken daily. Australia and New Zealand have also warned against consuming
soy sauce following the FSA survey which found that 22 soy sauce or soy-based products
from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand contained 3-MCPD. Some contained another
cancer-causing chemical, 1,3-DCP, which experts advise should not be present at any level
An executive at Meiweiyuan, based in the southern city of Guangzhou
whose "Golden Mark" brand was on the FSA list, said Chinese provincial quality
control agencies had never found detectable levels of the chemicals in its product.
"We retain our right to take legal action against the British agency for its
irresponsible act," said the executive, who declined to be identified.
Two other state-run food exporters in Guangzhou said brands of theirs
that appeared on the FSA list were counterfeits.
Counterfeiting of consumer products is rampant across southern China.
"We have long since stopped using the package designs that appeared on the FSA's Web
site," said a spokeswoman for the Guangzhou Import and Export Corporation. "We
have kept close contact with the agency and they also recognized that those were not our
products." Five authentic brands produced by the company had passed the FSA's
examinations on the two cancer-casusing chemicals, the spokeswoman said. The corporation
issued a statement in the European edition of the Chinese-language Singtao Daily
explaining the situation to its customers. Lin Jian, a quality-control officer at Jammy
Chai (Guangzhou) Food Co. Ltd. -- also named by the FSA -- said his company had not
exported soy sauce to Britain in recent years. "Nevertheless, we have maintained
strict safety standards, especially on 3-MCPD and 1,3-DCP. Our soy sauce can meet the
requirement of any importers," Lin said. "You can say for sure that those brands
are not ours."
BEIJING IGNORES WARNING
In supermarkets in Beijing, bottles of soy sauce remained on the
shelves, including the brands which the FSA said were unsafe. And cooks and consumers
alike said the uproar did not bother them. Chef Chen Qiurong said soy sauce was a vital
part of Chinese cooking and that he would continue to use it. "Almost every Chinese
dish needs soy sauce, for example, in spicy stir-fried chicken it adds colour, taste and
freshness," said Chen.
As sales manager Li Yi settled down for lunch, he dismissed fears about
the safety of his sauce. "I have eaten soy sauce all my life, so have my
grandparents," he said. "Nobody's ever gotten cancer because of it."
"Foreigners always say their food is healthy while Eastern food is unhealthy --
that's not true. Lots of Chinese eat soy sauce all the time and don't have any