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The BBC's George Eykyn in London's Chinatown
"The brands affected are not very well known"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 20 June, 2001, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Soy sauce cancer warning
Lab work
Scientists analysed 100 samples
High levels of potentially cancer causing chemicals have been found in some soy sauce products.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning to consumers following the results of tests on 100 samples, of which 22 gave cause for concern.

All of the affected products should be removed from the shelves and consumers should throw away any that they may have

Suzi Leather
However, the FSA has stressed that the majority of samples contained none of these contaminants whatsoever, and that all those from major retail chains were completely safe.

The survey, conducted last year, found that some samples contained a chemical called 3-MCPD at levels considerably higher than those deemed safe by the EU.

About two-thirds of these samples also contained a second chemical called 1,3-DCP which experts advise should not be present at any levels in food.

Both chemicals have the potential to cause cancer.

Specialist shops

The affected products are imported from Thailand, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and mostly sold in shops specialising in oriental foods.

Brands to be avoided
Golden Mountain
Jammy Chai
Pearl River Bridge
Lee Kum Kee
King Imperial
Golden Mark
Golden Swan
Tung Chun
It is also alleged that some of the products are counterfeit.

Although a quarter of samples taken posed concern, the actual proportion of the UK market taken by these products is thought to be very small.

The FSA is taking action to ensure that the products identified are removed from sale and that consumers do not use them.

The chemicals could cause harm to people who use these products with most of their meals on a daily basis over a long period of time.

Occasional consumers are unlikely to be harmed.

FSA Deputy Chair, Suzi Leather said: "We want to ensure that consumers of these products are informed of the risks and that effective action is taken to protect them.

"All of the affected products should be removed from the shelves and consumers should throw away any that they may have.

"I want to stress that only a limited range of soy products are affected. We are particularly concerned to protect people who have high levels of consumption, as they will be most at risk from the harmful effects of these chemicals.

Asian communities

This is most likely to be people from East and South East Asian communities.

"Soy sauce can be produced without these chemicals and we expect swift action from the industry to ensure that the planned EU legal limits are met. "

The FSA is issuing information leaflets to communities most affected.

It has also issued a Food Hazard Warning asking local enforcement officers to remove any of the products that may still be on sale.

Both 3-MCDP and 1,3-DCP belong to a group of chemicals known as chloropropanols. Their presence in soy sauce is avoidable.

They are usually produced by the addition of Acid Hydrolysed Vegetable protein to accelerate production.

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