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Privileged Statement On Soy Sauce Products

Director General Of Health Privileged Statement

Under Section 37 Of The Food Act 1981

DIRECTOR General of Health Karen Poutasi today warned the public to avoid consuming products containing soy sauce.

This follows advice given by Britain's Food Standards Agency today after a survey of soy sauce products on sale in the United Kingdom found about a quarter of samples contained high levels of potentially cancer-causing chemical.

The products are being removed from sale in the United Kingdom.

"At this stage we have the advice from British authorities but no detail to tell us whether the affected batches of the named products have been imported into New Zealand," Dr Poutasi said.

"We expect to have that information early next week. In the interim our advice to the public is to avoid consuming soy sauce and associated products such as oyster flavoured sauce and marinades that include soy sauce."

The British survey sampled 100 different soy sauce products and found 22 which caused concern because of levels of 3-MCPD which were well above the levels permissible under a limit to be introduced in the European Community next April.

Two-thirds of the samples with high levels of 3-MCPD also contained a second chemical, 1,3-DCP which is also likely to cause cancer if consumed over a long period of time.

The sauces affected in the United Kingdom are imported from Thailand, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Dr Poutasi said the British authority's view was that occasional consumers of these products were unlikely to suffer harm.

"We are more concerned about people who have high levels of consumption, 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 that this is avoidable.

Dr Poutasi said the Ministry of Health would be working with the Australian New Zealand Food Authority to decide the extent of action in both countries.

At present there is no set limit for these chemicals in New Zealand foods.


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