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Last Updated: Monday, 4 April, 2005, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Random checks for banned food dye
 A dish of chicken tikka masala
Turmeric is used to flavour curries and sauces
Random tests are to be carried out on foods containing palm oil and turmeric in case they contain Sudan I dye.

The European Commission ordered the foodstuffs be added to a list of products which must be certified as safe before being imported into the EU.

Palm oil is widely used for frying food and in biscuits and crisps. Turmeric is used to flavour sauces and curries.

In February, a scare involving the cancer-causing Sudan I dye led to one of the UK's largest food recalls.

Nearly 600 products were taken off shelves after the dye was found in a batch of Worcester sauce which was subsequently used in other foods.

Sudan I has been shown to cause cancer in mice, but the risk to humans who eat the affected food is thought to be extremely low.

We need to extend controls for Sudan to products other than chilli to ensure the highest possible levels of protection for European consumers
Markos Kyprianou
EU commissioner for health and consumer protection

Controls carried out in EU countries revealed that consignments of curcuma and virgin palm oil were contaminated with Sudan dyes, although the quantity is thought to be low.

The EU's commissioner for health and consumer protection, Markos Kyprianou, said the commission continuously reviews the safeguards it has against the danger of carcinogens such as Sudan dyes.

"One of the lessons we have learned from the recent Sudan I contamination is that we need to extend controls for Sudan to products other than chilli to ensure the highest possible levels of protection for European consumers," he said.

"I would urge all food operators and member state authorities to ensure products containing these dyes do not enter the EU market - this is their responsibility."

The commission issued a seven-point leaflet outlining the food industry's obligations on food safety on Monday.

Mr Kyprianou said the leaflet gives the food industry an "at-a-glance reminder of their obligations".

It also lets consumers know what they can expect from food operators.

Why these checks are being carried out

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