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DG Of Health Privileged Statement - Soy Products

Director General Of Health Privileged Statement Under Section 37 Of The Food Act 1981

Director General of Health Karen Poutasi is warning the public to avoid consuming another five soy sauce products that contain high levels of chloropropanol chemicals.

The warning comes as the Ministry of Health continues surveying soy sauce products on sale in New Zealand following international concern about the presence of chloropropanols in some soy-based sauces.

Health officials started sampling soy sauce products after the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency surveys earlier this year found a quarter of samples of soy sauce products on sale in the UK contained high levels of the potentially cancer-causing chemicals.

An emergency food standard was put in place in New Zealand to ensure the safety of domestically produced and imported soy sauce. Since this standard was put in place all new imports of soy sauce products have had to be tested by the importer to demonstrate safety.

The Ministry of Health also began surveying domestically produced and imported soy sauce products before the emergency food standards were put in place on 1 August 2001.

So far, 65 samples have been checked. Testing of the final 20 samples will be completed in about two weeks time and warnings will be issued regularly as information comes to hand. Dr Poutasi has now warned the public to avoid consuming a total of 11 soy sauce-based products.

The latest warning includes advice to avoid Amoy Chili Soy Sauce, Silver Swan Soy Sauce, Ta Tung Soy Bean Sauce, Zu Miao Fo Shan Soy Superior Sauce and Lee Kum Kee Seasoning Soy Sauce for Seafood as they are not compliant with the current New Zealand limit of 1.0 mg/kg for the chloropropanol 3-MCPD.

"We have asked importers to withdraw these products as a precautionary health measure. Tests have indicated the presence of a potentially cancer causing chemical substance that exceeds acceptable levels," Dr Poutasi said.

"We are most concerned about people who have high levels of consumption as they will be most at risk from the harmful effects of these chemicals."

Amoy Chili Soy Sauce made in Hong Kong has a yellow label with a picture of red chillis, while Silver Swan Soy Sauce is made in the Philippines and has a yellow and red label with a swan logo.

Ta Tung Soy Bean Sauce is made in Taiwan and has a red and white label with two pictures of a plant.

Zu Miao Fo Shan Soy Superior Sauce has an orange and white label with black, red and white lettering and is made in China.

Lee Kum Kee Seasoning Soy Sauce for Seafood has a green, yellow and brown label with a photograph of a seafood dish and is made in Hong Kong.

Consumers can check the Ministry of Health website http://www.moh.govt.nz for pictures of the non-compliant products.

"Importers are being asked to inform anyone who retails these products. Retailers are cooperating with their suppliers and the Ministry of Health and withdrawing the products from sale."

signed by:

Dr Karen O Poutasi,

Director-General of Health

TIMELINE

September 28, 2001 - The public is warned to avoid consuming Amoy Chili Soy Sauce, Silver Swan Soy Sauce, Ta Tung Soy Bean Sauce, Zu Miao Fo Shan Soy Superior Sauce and Lee Kum Kee Seasoning Soy Sauce for Seafood

September 20, 2001 - The public is warned to avoid consuming Zu Miao Mushroom Soy Sauce, Kimlan Soy Sauce, Tung Chun Roe Soy Sauce, President Creamy Soy Sauce and Gia Minh Seasoning Soy Sauce based on New Zealand testing.

August 1, 2001 - An emergency food standard is introduced.

July 27, 2001 - A warning is issued against consuming Golden Mountain Soya Bean Sauce (Seasoning Sauce) following Australian tests. These tests have recently been confirmed by testing in New Zealand.

June 21, 2001 - Public warned to avoid consuming products containing soy sauce following advice given by Britain's Food Standards Agency 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 chemicals.

For further information refer to the Ministry of Health's website.

Ends

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