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Alert over India chilli spreads

February 24, 2005 20:26 IST

The alert over 'Sudan 1', an illegal cancer-causing dye found in a UK-made sauce allegedly containing chilli powder imported from India in 2002, spread to 15 countries in two continents on Thursday.

As the biggest crisis to hit Britain's food industry since 'mad cow disease' continued to grow, some food companies in the country admitted that adulterated chilli powder added to Worcestershire sauce had been used in foods sent to hospitals and schools, the Guardian, daily reported.

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According to the daily, food companies in the US, Canada, Ireland, France, Denmark, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, the Caribbean, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus and Malta were among the 186 firms listed by Premier Foods as buyers of its Worcestershire sauce.

About 120,000 bottles of Crosse and Blackwell Worcester sauce were being withdrawn in the US and Canada.

Leicester-based Ashok Joshi and his wife, Salubha, co-directors of EW Spice, which imported the chilli powder allegedly contaminated with a carcinogenic dye refused to comment on the issue.

Local authorities, the National Health Services' purchasing agency and food companies were struggling to identify which products may have been affected as Thursday's deadline, set by the Food Standards Agency to trace where the Sudan 1 dye had ended up, approached.

The NHS purchasing agency added 25 products to its list of contaminated foods, which may have been sent to hospitals.

"We have alerted trusts to what they might be using that needs to be out of the system," a spokeswoman said.

Two catering companies, which dominate school supplies and have thousands of pubs, restaurants and clubs among their customers, have confirmed that they had supplied food which was listed in the recall.

East Anglia Food Ingredients, in a statement claimed that EW Spice bought the contaminated powder from Gautam Export Corporation of Mumbai on September 12, 2002.

This had been supplied by Volga Spice, also of Mumbai.

The company also claimed that it has been involved in a legal wrangle with insurers for the Joshis' company since 2003. This related to a similar scare over powder in 2003 when EAFI had to pay £361,705 to Southall-based TRS wholesale company after 250 products were recalled.

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