Consumers Need Soy Sauce Answers Quickly
Green Safe Food spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today the Health Ministry should act swiftly to protect consumers and find out whether carcinogen-containing soy sauces are on New Zealand shelves.
"A look at the UK web-site shows that the brands which have been found to contain the chemical contaminants 3-MCPD and 1,3-DCP in the UK are readily available here.
"The Health Ministry has told consumers to avoid soy sauce until they have checked whether the affected batches identified in Britain are available here, and that's a good start.
"But the Health Ministry can't just rely on the British testing programme. It is possible that we have brands or batches here which haven't been imported into Britain - and we won't know until we run a similar testing programme here that we have caught all the contaminated sauces."
Ms Kedgley questioned why the Australia New Zealand Food Authority had not already set limits on these two chemical contaminants, which are known to cause cancer in animals, nor introduced any kind of testing programme.
"These chemicals have been causing concern in the UK for years, and the British Food Standards Authority said they those who eat soy sauce regularly are at most risk.
"Given that Europe has been studying this issue for many years, one has to wonder why ANZFA has not taken similar action to set regulations to protect consumers from this hazard. Or does ANZFA only act when an issue is brought into the public domain as a food scandal?
"ANZFA and the Ministry of Health have been remiss in not picking up on these concerns, particularly given the substantial Asian population in New Zealand, many of whom would fall into the high-risk group as people who eat soy sauce regularly."
Ms Kedgley said she was particularly worried that 1,3-DCP is considered a genotoxic carcinogen which directly damages genetic material in humans. The UK Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment has set no safe level of consumption for 1,3-DCP, advising that "exposure to 1,3-DCP should be reduced to as low level as technologically feasible."