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MOH works with ANZFA on Soy Sauce Products


22 June 2001

Ministry of Health works with ANZFA on Soy Sauce Products

THE Ministry of Health is working the Australia New Zealand Food Authority to develop controls to regulate the levels of potentially cancer causing chemicals in soy sauce products.

The Ministry is also investigating border controls that could be applied and the possibility of issuing a food standard to implement these controls.

Director General of Health Karen Poutasi yesterday warned the public to avoid consuming products containing soy sauce until the Ministry of Health has assessed the situation in New Zealand.

The warning followed advice by Britain's Food Standards Agency, after a survey of soy sauce products on sale in the United Kingdom found about a quarter of the samples contained high levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals called chloropropanols.

Ministry of Health spokesman Dr Bob Boyd says the Ministry is also preparing an information sheet translated into Mandarin and Cantonese to ensure Asian food premises in New Zealand such as specialty shops, restaurants and takeaways are aware of British concerns about soy sauce products. This will be available from public health units or on the Ministry of Health website.

Other actions are also being taken to raise public awareness.

"The Ministry of Health has today sent a letter to food importers known to the Ministry of Health to alert them to British concerns and to request more details about the manufacturing processes for their soy sauce products and any laboratory analysis results they may have."

Some distributors have already assured the Ministry their products comply with the new European standard for these chemicals but have not yet been able to provide this documentation.

The Ministry is also working with Customs New Zealand to obtain detailed lists of soy sauce importers and details of products and brands entering New Zealand. This information is expected early next week.

"At this stage we do not know if the soy sauce products on sale in New Zealand are made using the same ingredients and processes as those soy sauce product batches tested in the UK. Once we know which products are safe this information will be publicly available on the Ministry of Health website," said Dr Boyd, the Ministry's Chief Advisor for safety and regulation.

The British authority's view is that occasional consumers of these products are unlikely to suffer harm.

"We are more concerned about people who have high levels of consumption over a long period of time, as they will be most at risk from the harmful effects of these chemicals if they are contained in soy sauce products on sale here."

Both 3-MCPD and 1,3-DCP can occur in soy sauce during the manufacturing process, although the British Food Safety Agency says this is avoidable.

ENDS

More information, including a list of soy sauce products found by the British Food Safety Agency to be compliant in the United Kingdom, is available on the Food Standards Agency website:

http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk/news/soysauce.htm

For further information contact:

Anne-Marie Robinson, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2067 or 025-802 622

Internet address: http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html


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